A Magistrates’ Court has thrown out a claim by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s heirs for former Labour minister Chris Cardona to pay a penalty for issuing ‘malicious’ garnishee orders against the journalist, then failing to produce evidence to support his libel claims.

The issue stemmed from two precautionary warrants worth €46,000 which Cardona filed against Caruana Galizia whom he was suing for defamation over her stories about his alleged visit to a brothel in Velbert whilst on an official trip to Germany.

Cardona subsequently dropped those libel cases in March 2018, mere months after the journalist was killed in a car bomb explosion metres away from her Bidnija home in October 2017.

Her husband and sons, who took over her role as defendant in the various cases which Caruana Galizia had been defending in court, filed a civil action against Cardona.

Their claim was based on article 836(8) of the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure which states that a person targeted by a court warrant may ask the court to impose a penalty upon the person issuing that warrant if certain legal grounds existed.

The heirs argued that after filing two libel cases against the journalist, Cardona had failed to produce evidence to support his claims.

The cases were ultimately struck off.

So the garnishee orders and the libel proceedings were instituted in a malicious, frivolous and vexatious manner and thus Cardona ought to be condemned to pay a penalty, argued the applicants.

That penalty could reach a maximum of close to €7,000.

Cardona rebutted by means of several pleas, one of which stated that the subject matter of the case was res judicata, namely that the issue had already been decided upon definitively.

When delivering judgment on Monday the court, presided over by magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo, upheld that plea.

The court delved into caselaw on the notion of res judicata and concluded that all three legal requisites for the plea to be successful, existed.

The matter was identical to that tackled in the previous cases between the same parties, the claims were based on the same juridical facts and the parties were also the same, since the heirs had replaced the assassinated journalist as defendants.

When all was considered, the court upheld Cardona’s plea and stopped there, thus throwing out the applicants’ claim.

Lawyers Pawlu Lia and Joseph Gerada assisted Cardona.


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