Magistrate Carol Peralta held a press conference yesterday to give his version of the events which developed around the courtroom party he held on Thursday and the subsequent arrest of Times of Malta reporter Ivan Martin, who went to the law courts building to see what was happening. (See http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20131220/local/peralta.499817#.UrVjhyfXWAY)
Some of Magistrate Peralta's comments can be heard on the audio clips above. No cameras were allowed for the press conference but the Magistrate allowed the audio recording.
Mr Martin's version of events is being carried below.
THE REPORTER'S ACCOUNT
Ivan Martin arrived at the scene shortly before 4pm and attempted to take a picture of the event through the courtroom porthole but was stopped by a court usher.
He warned him he was under court arrest and escorted him into the hall.
Mr Martin said that once he was inside the courtroom Magistrate Carol Peralta came out of his chambers, asked what he was doing and demanded to know who he was.
He described the scene in the courtroom as one of intimidation where a woman was repeatedly spitting out the words “shame on you, what a disgrace, no respect” and a court official was resting against a wall staring him down.
“The magistrate smirked and addressed me in a derogatory and intimidating way. He was smoking a cigarette and had put down a glass of what appeared to be scotch,” he said, adding the situation led to his reluctance to reply immediately.
“I said, ‘I don’t think I have to tell you who I am’, due to his state and seeing that he had not identified himself as a magistrate.”
When the magistrate asked if he was taking photos, Mr Martin did not reply.
“He asked me my name. I hesitated as I wasn’t sure what my legal obligations were... he was raising his voice and still smoking,” Mr Martin said, adding that at this point he gave the magistrate his name. “He stopped for a moment and repeated my surname as he stroked his beard and looked at me as though he knew the name.
“He then asked me who I was and I said ‘nobody’. He said ‘I know what you are’ and called me ‘scum’.”
The magistrate then turned to the other people in the room and said: “He’s going to send some photos to Daphne [Caruana Galizia].” When Mr Martin denied this, the magistrate proceeded to ask if he was a reporter, and this was where Mr Martin replied: “Yes, I work for Times of Malta.”
It was at this point that the magistrate instructed the court official to phone the police. He then left the courtroom and went into his chambers.
“I immediately phoned my news editor and informed him I had been put under court arrest. The magistrate then re-emerged and called me a ‘parasite of society’...
“He said the police would arrest me and that ‘I would get what was coming to me’. He then phoned a policeman and told him to hurry up.”