Former MEP Marlene Mizzi will not face criminal action over an insulting letter a judge who ruled against her in a libel suit received, a court ruled on Friday.
The matter dates back to February, when Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff received a letter about an appeal judgment delivered last year in a libel suit filed by Mizzi against Casa.
Mr Justice Mintoff had ruled against Mizzi in that case, noting that MEPs had to expect "harsh and rigorous" scrutiny over their use of public funds.
The letter landed in the judge’s letterbox on February 17, 2021 and was read by Mr Justice Mintoff that same day, prompting a report to the police.
Charges were filed against Mizzi as the suspect sender of the letter on May 12 and the former MEP released a statement to the police on that same date.
The first court, presided over by magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, dismissed the case against Mizzi, finding that the date in the notice of summons had been overwritten and scribbled on in such a way as to make it barely legible.
The Attorney General then filed an appeal.
But the the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima, observed that the court was not expected to do the prosecution’s job.
A mere glance at the notice of summons showed that it had been delivered to the MEP’s husband on a certain day in May 2021 at “8:20hrs” but the date was overwritten in ink.
The AG argued that that date was “easily legible” but the court disagreed, pointing out that faced with such a written document it should not have been difficult for the prosecution to anticipate problems.
It ought to have summoned the police officer who actually scribbled that date to clarify it.
Although the case involved summary proceedings, the Magistrates’ Court had ordered the court summons to be exhibited, had heard Mr Justice Mintoff’s testimony and had allowed a deferment precisely so that the issue of prescription could be tackled.
After examining the notice of summons, Madam Justice Grima observed that the overwritten figures gave rise to a “reasonable doubt” as to when that notice had been served.
The court could not rely of “assumptions,” said the Judge, noting that the officer who served the summons was not called to testify.
This was not the way court notices were to be done, written out in illegible handwriting.
Nor was the court expected to try to decipher a handwritten scribble so that the prosecution might succeed in its case at all costs, remarked the judge, finding no reason to vary the decision of the first court.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us