Court seals email exhibited by police officer in Rosianne Cutajar libel case against Mark Camilleri

A court is expected to rule on whether an email exhibited in court in a libel case filed by MP Rosianne Cutajar against author Mark Camilleri can be used • Camilleri's lawyer had asked for Valentine's Day hotel booking email to be exhibited

Rosianne Cutajar (right) is suing author Mark Camilleri over remarks that she accepted payment from Yorgen Fenech (left) in return for defending him from corruption allegations
Rosianne Cutajar (right) is suing author Mark Camilleri over remarks that she accepted payment from Yorgen Fenech (left) in return for defending him from corruption allegations

The court has sealed an email exhibited in court by a police superintendent in a libel case filed by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar against author Mark Camilleri.

Superintendent Keith Arnaud had been summoned by Camilleri's lawyer to submit as evidence, an email ostensibly containing a booking made by Yorgen Fenech at a Paris hotel in which Cutajar was indicated as a guest.

Arnaud handed the email to Magistrate Rachel Montebello this morning, as the libel case continued to be heard. It is unclear what the email contains. Arnaud said the booking was made on 14 February 2018, for a short stay during that month.

Cutajar had filed for libel over a Facebook post of Camilleri’s, in which he alleged that the government MP had accepted payment from Yorgen Fenech in return for her defending him from corruption allegations while criticising the investigative work carried out by Daphne Caruana Galizia. Fenech is accused of having organised the murder of Caruana Galizia.

The post repeated a claim Camilleri had made in his book A Rent-seeker’s Paradise, in which he stated that Fenech had been involved in an intimate relationship with Cutajar. Camilleri claimed in his writing that Fenech "gave her corrupt money on the pretence she had helped him broker a property deal".

The excerpt reads: "While Cutajar was enjoying her time with Fenech at work, she was pouring scorn on Daphne's memory both in parliament and abroad. Cutajar also opposed and challenged those who called for public inquiries into Daphne's murder whilst defending and apologising for the corruption of the Muscat government even after the 17 Black revelations."

In a previous sitting, held in May, Cutajar’s lawyers had asked the court to invert the burden of proof, in essence forcing the defendant to prove the veracity of his claims.

Camilleri’s lawyer, Joseph Mizzi, had subsequently filed a request to the Criminal Court, asking it to allow access to this evidence, which is part of the records of the criminal proceedings against Fenech.

Before the superintendent was summoned to the stand, Cutajar’s lawyer  Edward Gatt told the court that a very recent ECJ judgement, Telekom Deutschland v Germany , had ruled that certain communications between third parties, giving information about other persons on matters not pertaining to national security, but about private life, constituted a breach of rights.

The court said that it wanted to see the document first, calling in the witness, Superintendent Arnaud.

Arnaud exhibited an email, which he said was taken from a laptop belonging to Yorgen Fenech, which contained "a lot of business content."

"The email was found through a simple keyword search," said the superintendent.

The court ruled that it would decree on Gatt’s request after reading it. It will be sealed in the acts of the case in the meantime.

Lawyer Joseph Mizzi, appearing for Camilleri, informed the court that he had also filed an application to the Criminal Court for the exhibition of mobile phone chats. “These are the chats between Rosianne Cutajar and Yorgen Fenech and communication with an unnamed third party.” 

Asked by the court, Mizzi explained that the third party was not the subject of the libel, but that Camilleri had been mentioned in them.

At this stage, Gatt asked for a blanket ban on the publication of Arnaud’s testimony or failing that, of the dates he had mentioned. The court, however, rejected the request.

The case was adjourned to November for the continuation of the defendant’s evidence.