Mark Gaffarena lost his libel suit against me – but the issues I wrote about remain

Published: February 21, 2017 at 12:10pm

Mark Gaffarena squatted on a large tract of land at Tal-Handaq. Structures were built on it, and a large swimming-pool put in. A restaurant was set up, which opens on Sundays to crowds of people. In summer, entrance tickets are openly sold – with promotions for them on Facebook – to big parties which go on throughout the day and into the small hours.

The place is run by a certain Antoine Azzopardi, aka Ic-Cavett, who is known to the police and who has been indicted on drug-trafficking charges – though his trial, like that of the Mark Gaffarena’s brother-in-law, who murdered his wife’s lover (his wife being Mark Gaffarena’s sister) in Qormi eight years ago, has fallen down a black hole into nothingness.

Mark Gaffarena said in his libel suit testimony that he lets Antoine Azzopardi use the place free of charge and that he gets nothing from it. He does it as a favour to Azzopardi. (He also said that he is completely illiterate, and that he never read the blog-post which he sued about, but relied on others to tell him what was in it, and those others told him that I’d written how he was dealing in drugs, which I didn’t.)

While the case was ongoing, the ‘Old Mint Street Scandal’ hit the news, and it transpired that this big piece of land in Tal Handaq, on which Gaffarena had squatted and installed a swimming-pool and illegal restaurant, was among the state-owned real estate he had asked for, and obtained, in return for his fractional share in the Valletta house.

The illegal restaurant is still running, as are the parties. Gaffarena is no longer categorised as a squatter because of a corrupt, scandalous deal with government cronies, which gave him title to the land. But the other illegalities remain and the police and the Planning Authority do nothing about them – despite Azzopardi being known to the police on drug-related matters.

And the press reports the fact that Gaffarena lost the libel suit, while ignoring the far bigger story of what I had written about originally, which is a sickening case of corruption and abuse, in which the authorities are clearly colluding in turning a blind eye to an illegal operation run brazenly in full public view by a man indicated on drug-trafficking charges, on land that is part of the ‘Old Mint Street’ scandal-deal.

Mark Gaffarena built this swimming on the government land at Tal-Handaq when he was squatting on it. He has now obtained title to it as part of the ‘Old Mint Street’ deal which led to the forced resignation of Michael Falzon.

The illegal restaurant at Tal-Handaq

One of the many illegal parties, with entrance tickets sold openly on Facebook, held on the government land at Tal-Handaq while Mark Gaffarena was squatting on it and Antoine Azzopardi, who has been indicted on drug-trafficking charges, ran it.