Here it is: the heresy in Owen Bonnici’s draft law on the press

Published: February 15, 2017 at 1:48pm

The criminal defamation law will be repealed, yet prosecutions that are underway when it is repealed will carry on regardless – despite there being no law to prosecute under.

Now that I’ve uploaded it and the army of lawyers who read this website can see it for themselves, they need to begin ripping it to shreds. Let’s hope the Chamber of Advocates issues a statement about it, or at least gives comments to the press. We’d also like to know what the Chief Justice thinks, if he is permitted to speak, and journalists really need t hound the Attorney General to ask him whether he has taken leave of his senses, or whether this was drafted without his vetting.

The Commissioner for Law Reform has spoken already, popping in first thing this morning with comments beneath my post of last night, saying that once the criminal defamation law is repealed, all current prosecution cases should fall through.

He also says – and this is my view and that of several lawyers – that once there is unanimous commitment in parliament for the immediate repeal of the law, current prosecution cases should be put off sine die until they fall through with the repeal of the law.

It is worth noting – it is, in fact, crucial to note – that the government itself has said that there are only 10 current prosecution cases for criminal defamation. By its own admission, it is bending and subverting the established principles of criminal law for just 10 cases. The number of defendants is even fewer than 10: I am the accused in three of those prosecutions (one of them on the instigation of Konrad Mizzi, another on the instigation of his very personal assistant), and Austin Gatt is the accused in another two (I know because we have the same lawyer). That means half of those 10 cases involve just two people, but those two people are called Daphne Caruana Galizia and Austin Gatt.