Updated 4.12pm with notary's counter-protest
A doctor and a notary have denied any wrongdoing in a legal row over the will of a COVID-19 victim after the man's sisters accused them of taking advantage of their brother.
Medical doctor Jan Chircop, son of the late Labour MP Karl Chircop, and notary Joe Cilia, a former Labour MP, were responding separately to a judicial protest filed by two sisters, who claimed irregularities in the way they handled the man’s will.
Alberta and Jane Mangion claimed that Chircop had taken all of their brother’s possessions within an hour of his burial. They accused Cilia of committing irregularities in the publication of the will they were contesting.
The legal squabble is over the will, signed on October 7 last year by Mangion, 69, who died on February 5 just days after contracting the COVID-19 virus. His sisters claimed that the following day, just one hour after the burial, Chircop informed them that he was their brother’s universal heir and handed over a copy of Mangion’s last will issued before notary Cilia.
They also claimed that Chircop had gone to their brother’s house in Gudja and took various documents, bank details, internet banking pins, a shotgun, jewellery and cash, including money belonging to them which Mangion was keeping. The sisters said all these were taken on the same day of the burial.
But in his counter-protest, Chircop denied taking anything that he was not authorised to take by the deceased man, Mario Mangion, who he described as being like a second father to him.
Instead, he insisted that it was the man’s sisters who were doing something diametrically opposed to their brother’s wishes.
Chircop explained that Mangion was not only a family friend but he had considered him as his second father. He said the claims made by the two sisters displayed utter disrespect towards their brother and his wishes.
Chircop said it was not true that he had taken anything he was not authorised to take or that he obtained an illicit copy of the will, a copy of which Mangion himself had given him upon signing. A handwritten note on the will that reads “true copy for Jan” was written by Mangion. Chircop also denied any wrongdoing.
Regarding the burial in a grave that was different to that written in Mangion’s will, Chircop said it was the sisters who decided to bury him there as the grave cannot be opened for 10 years, in line with health directives for COVID-19 victims.
On his part, notary Cilia insisted that the sisters’ claims made in his regard were not only frivolous but were also baseless. He explained that when Mangion was at his office on the day he drew up the will, he had asked for a copy of the will he had just signed and he (the notary) handed him a copy. Cilia said he did not know what the client had done with the copy and denied writing the note “true copy for Jan”.
Both Chircop and Cilia called on the two sisters to desist from making further baseless claims and insinuations, warning them of further legal action in default including for libel and defamation.
Lawyers Matthew Paris, Luke Dalli and Ann Marie Cutajar signed Chircop’s counter-protest while lawyer Mark Simiana signed Cilia’s.
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