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MaltaToday 20 October 2021 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 20 OCTOBER 2021 2 NEWS 22 new COVID-19 cases were registered on Tuesday, figures published by the Health Ministry show. No new deaths were registered in the last 24-hours, with the total number of deaths standing at 459. Active cases stand at 272 after 21 recoveries were regis- tered. There are currently 13 coronavirus patients being cared for at Mater Dei Hospital, of which two are in the ITU. Until yesterday, 856,311 vaccine doses were adminis- tered, of which 36,140 were booster doses. COVID-19 Two patients in ITU, 22 new cases registered MATTHEW AGIUS GEORGE Degiorgio has been awarded €10,000 in compensa- tion after a judge ruled that his right to private and family life was breached by unauthorised phone taps. Mr. Justice Toni Abela upheld the complaint with regards to the privacy issue, but not with regards to his complaint of breach of fair trial rights. Degiorgio's lawyer William Cuschieri had challenged the authorities to produce telephone intercepts that the prosecution had "bragged about" throughout the compilation of evidence. According to Maltese law, the Malta Security Services is re- sponsible for phone taps and it can only do so after obtaining a warrant signed by the Prime Minister or Home Affairs Min- ister. Investigators were listening to Degiorgio's phone calls eight months before Caruana Galizia was assassinated, as they sus- pected him of being involved in other crimes, the court heard. The intercepts had led the po- lice to Degiorgio, his brother Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat, as the alleged murder- ers. Cuschieri had requested that the Head of the Malta Security Services, the Commissioner of Police and Inspector Keith Ar- naud testify in the constitutional case. With regards to the breach of the presumption of innocence due to prejudicial pre-trial pub- licity, the judge said this did not occur. "The large part of these pub- lications, although they could have avoided some of the 'colour' ("boasting"…"celebrate"…"tefa' l-gebla fuq saqajh"), it cannot be said that they amount to a vir- ulent publicity campaign," said the judge, adding that neither could the continuous showing of the photo of the applicant cause prejudice. "In a democratic society it is in- evitable that there will be certain comments, even if severe, that appear in the press, prompted by public interest." "Crimes are what they are, but particularly homicides, more so of public persons, cannot be placed in a protective bubble. It is inevitable that they will foment heated discussions amongst the public. Should everything that appears in the press - even if se- vere - be considered as breaching the principle of the presumption of innocence, we would be open- ing a door to the manipulation of proceedings…" said the judge, explaining that an accused per- son could potentially instigate a public press campaign against him, to allow him to claim a breach of his presumption of in- nocence. "On the other hand, prudence and reason are to guide the press. This must not exceed the limits of decency as it could open it- self up to not only libel but also to being the cause of breaches of Article 6 and…8 (of the European Convention on Human Rights)." The judge quoted comments on the topic of local and Europe- an jurisprudence about the pre- sumption of innocence and the media made by Prof. Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici. "If the public is so gullible as to believe whatever is said by a public authority which is not even a judicial authority, so be it. All the media could have joined in casting the accused as guilty but this, once again, although not commendable in any way, still does not amount to a breach of the presumption of inno- cence, as it is presumed at least juris tantum, that an independ- ent and impartial Court cannot be taken out of its path of deal- ing and conducting the trial in a fair and impartial manner." Mr. Justice Abela found no breach of fair trial rights in this case, but found a breach of De- giorgio's rights to private and family life and awarded him €10,000, to be paid by the State Advocate and the Head of the Malta Security Services. Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà, who was also targeted by the suit, was cleared with the court ruling that he had no case to answer to. George Degiorgio awarded €10,000 after judge rules privacy breach by unauthorised phone taps George Degiorgio, one of three accused of Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination was awarded €10,000 in compensation after judge ruled his right to private and family life was breached by unauthorised phone taps George Degiorgio being driven back to prison after a Court appearance

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