The Prime Minister’s former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, has dropped two libel suits instituted against Daphne Caruana Galizia over allegations that he had received large sums of money from people close to Azerbaijani politicians.
When the cases were due to continue on Monday morning, his lawyers informed presiding Magistrate Victor George Axiaq, that Mr Schembri had formally ceded the two lawsuits.
Four other libel suits filed by the prime minster, also due to continue today were adjourned to March.
Dr Muscat had filed an application requesting that the four lawsuits be put off to another date, saying this would be “opportune in view of current circumstances.”
Mr Schembri's cases stemmed from an article published by the journalist on her Running Commentary blog on April 15, 2017 titled, ‘Egrant Inc: hiding in plain sight."
In it she claimed that the then-chief of staff received large sums of money from a bank account of a company closely linked to Azerbaijani political circles.
That story had been followed up by Ms Caruana Galizia alleging that Mr Schembri had received “large sums of money from the daughter of the Azerbaijan president,” prompting the then chief of staff to file a second libel suit denying that he had ever received any money “directly or indirectly from persons in Azerbaijan.”
In his second application, Mr Schembri had claimed that the journalist had been colluding with “PN exponents,” with the clear intention of influencing voters when a general election was “just one year away.”
The former chief-of-staff said in a tweet announcing the libel cases at the time that Ms Caruana Galizia had "no way out".
This was a clear threat to democracy and free vote, Mr Schembri had argued, insisting that the allegations were “untrue and unfounded.”
The Court declared the two suits were officially dropped after a note of cessation was filed in the court registry last week.
The cases filed by the Prime Minister, and now adjourned, were against Daphne Caruana Galizia, Matthew Caruana Galizia, Karl Gouder and Mario Frendo.
Dr Peter Caruana Galizia was present in court, assisted by Dr Joseph Zammit Maempel.
Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo represented Mr Schembri.
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