Former Labour Tourism Minister Joe Grima has been ordered to pay €5,000 in libel damages following a complaint by Richard Cachia Caruana, Malta's former permanent representative to the European Union.
Mr Cachia Caruana instituted the case following posts uploaded by Mr Grima on his Facebook page on August 29 and 30, 2012.
The former minister – recently appointed special envoy to the World Tourism Organisation – wrote that Mr Cachia Caruana had a villa in Valletta which he wanted to sell for €5 million. He claimed that Mr Cachia Caruana boasted that only his villa could get a permit for a pool and, Mr Grima added, politics paid for such people. The posts also criticised Mr Cachia Caruana for the compensation he was given after he was stabbed, and over the nature of his salary.
Mr Grima pleaded fair comment but did not present evidence.
In his arguments, Mr Cachia Caruana said he did not have a house in Valletta but had a home in Mdina. However a house with pool in Mdina which was being offered for €5 million and which had been featured in a magazine a few days before Mr Grima’s posts was not his own.
The court confirmed that Mr Cachia Caruana had no property in Valletta and that he was not selling a property in Mdina. It had not been proven that only Mr Cachia Caruana could get a permit for a pool. Indeed, it had been shown that more than one property in Mdina had a pool.
The assertions made by Mr Grima were therefore incorrect and amounted to libel,the court said.
Mr Grima has said he will appeal.
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