Yorgen Fenech has failed in his bid to revoke a €5 million garnishee order, issued by a court to secure a claim for damages by the heirs of the journalist in whose murder he stands charged as an accomplice.

The husband and sons of Daphne Caruana Galizia filed an action for moral and material damages against the businessman, alleged hitmen George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat, as well as self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma over their roles in the October 2017 car bomb explosion that killed the journalist.

Fenech had argued that the precautionary warrant was not only excessive but also unjustified, calling on the court to strike it down.

Such a warrant could be totally or partially revoked if any of the reasons justifying its issue, ceased to exist, observed the First Hall, Civil Court, presided over by Madam Justice Anna Felice.

However, in this case, Fenech had put forward no evidence to prove any change of circumstances, observed the court, adding that the reasons justifying such garnishee order remained unchanged. 

The applicant had also claimed that the value secured by the warrant was excessive, pointing out that there had been no mention of the €5 million figure in the sworn application whereby the Caruana Galizia family had instituted proceedings. 

To effectively determine the magnitude of damage that has been suffered, the court would have to conduct a detailed assessment which clearly fell far beyond what was expected of the court in these proceedings.

Fenech had also argued that a similar garnishee order, issued against Theuma, was subsequently withdrawn by the family who accepted alternative security in the form of a warrant of prohibitory injunction, targeting a list of immovable properties owned by the middleman. 

However, the court rejected his claim that the warrant was unjustified, noting that a security provided by one of the respondents offered no peace of mind that the obligations of the other respondents were equally guaranteed. 

At this preliminary stage, the court’s task was to assess the justification of the warrant without entering into the merits of the case, observed the judge, adding that the court did not take lightly the right of a creditor to secure his claims with every means allowed by law. 

Responsibility for the precautionary warrant was to be shouldered by the party requesting it, the court observed.

However, it turned down a request by Fenech for a penalty to be imposed upon the Caruana Galizia family for allegedly abusing the judicial process by requesting the garnishee order. 

Finally, the court refused a request to order banks to refrain from freezing those assets not subject to attachment in terms of the law. 

There was no evidence that the banks were breaching the law and if this were so, a complaint should be addressed to the banks through the appropriate procedures, the court concluded. 

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