The government has perpetual right and access to the foreshore and the sea of Fomm ir-Riħ according to a public deed between the land owners and the government, published by Ramblers Malta.
Ramblers published the excerpt on Wednesday after access to a secluded bay at Fomm ir-Riħ was blocked by a metal barrier some days ago.
The access was temporarily restored following widespread anger.
But the environment ministry said the land has been private "for decades". A barrier blocking off access could return if the landowner obtains a permit for it, the ministry has said.
His lawyer Michael Grech then told Times of Malta the metal gate, which blocked access to the bay, was installed because the area is private and the path leading down to the sea was in a dangerous state. He said Chetcuti could be held responsible if a person is injured there.
Chetcuti, he said, does not want to block off access to the beach. But he does not want to be held responsible if someone is injured while on their way there. He is now in talks with authorities to reach a solution.
In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, Ramblers Malta published an excerpt of the 1983 deed.
The deed “establishes gratuitously” in favour of the government, “on whose behalf the Commissioner of Lands accepts, a perpetual right and access therefrom to the foreshore and the sea over a divided portion of land situated in the locality of Fomm ir-Riħ”.
Ramblers said in their post this meant that “no private landowner” has the “power or the right” to close off access to the passage, through the use of a gate or otherwise as this is “entirely the prerogative of the government of Malta”.