Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers requested a direct, unmonitored line to be able to communicate with their client, currently behind bars under preventive arrest while facing prosecution as an alleged accomplice in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

But that request was turned down earlier this week by the court, presiding over the compilation of evidence.

The request cropped up after one of Fenech’s lawyers reported an incident with the prison director.

Charles Mercieca had sought recourse before the court after prison director Alex Dalli had stopped him from taking along documents to jail, during a meeting with Fenech to prepare for next day’s hearing in court. 

That incident had abruptly broken up the client-lawyer meeting and Mercieca subsequently filed a complaint with the Chamber of Advocates, claiming that the director’s attitude negatively impinged upon his duties as a lawyer.

Fenech’s legal team then asked for a direct line with their client, that was not recorded or intercepted. 

However, that request was thrown out by Magistrate Rachel Montebello, presiding over the murder compilation, observing that such a request breached prison regulations that expressly stated that all calls to or from prison, must be monitored and conversations recorded. 

Just as the accused argued that laws must be applied to safeguard his fundamental rights, likewise laws must be respected and the court would surely not do away with any law or regulation, nor order the prison director to do so. 

As for the incident concerning the prison director, the court cannot tell the prison head what to do, save for anything which impinged upon the criminal proceedings at hand. 

Lawyer-client consultations in jail were to be conducted in such manner as to avoid any impingement upon the rights of the defence, the court said, adding that sufficient opportunities were to be given to allow effective communication between the accused and his lawyers. 

Moreover, in his reply to Mercieca’s claim, the prison director pointed out that he had granted the lawyers permission to bring along electronic equipment that could be used during their meetings with the accused. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us