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MALTATODAY 24 October 2021

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20 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 24 OCTOBER 2021 NEWS This Halloween bring your little monsters for a not-too-scary but totally spooktacular adventure at Esplora. Join us for a week-long of SPOOKTACULAR SCIENCE! SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE 30 30 OCT - 3 OCT - 3 NOV NOV 30 OCT - 3 NOV 10:00am - 6:00pm 10:00am - 6:00pm 10:00am - 6:00pm HALLOWEEN THEMED OPENING HOURS ESPLORA | Interactive Science Centre Villa Bighi, Kalkara KKR 1320 - Malta Esplora Interactive Science Centre was part-financed by ERDF. Esplora was declared to be an Emblematic Project by the EU Commission MATTHEW VELLA THE Maltese Church is standing by its decision to award control of a 17th century foundation to the lawyer of a private company, which is developing land in Qala, Gozo. In a statement to MataToday, the archdiocese said that the late Richard Stagno Navarra had presented evidence of his lineage to the Curia in 1991, and that his claim as an heir was "confirmed by the courts" in a lengthy case that started in 1992 and ended in 2013. "The heirs of the foun- dress further guaranteed their lineage with prejudice in their 2017 agreement with the Arch- diocese." But Stagno Navarra's claim to be a worthy heir to the Cosma- na Navarra foundation has never been independently verified in court. In 1992, the Maltese Church filed a legal action against Stag- no Navarra after a court in Gozo, presided by magistrate Carol Peralta, issued a 24-hour deci- sion to appoint Stagno Navarra as rector of the Abbazia di Sant Antonio degli Navarra, a foun- dation set up by the noble Cos- mana Navarra for vast tracts of land she owned in Gozo. The controversial decision had been taken without even notify- ing the Archdiocese of the hear- ing. That case was resolved in 2010, and later on appeal in 2013: which cancelled the Peralta de- cision, giving the Archbishop the authority to appoint the Ab- bazia's rector, which had until 1989 been a cleric. Throughout 1992, the Church had sought to stop Stagno Navarra from transferring the vast lands of the Abbazia to Ber- racimp, a company owned by former magistrate Dennis Mon- tebello and the lawyer Carmelo Galea. The Montebello family, Galea and Stagno Navarra's heirs are today formally in business as Carravan Company. The 1992 actions were techni- cally 'successful' for the Church, given that Stagno Navarra was not legally eligible to register the lands in the name of any pri- vate company by not having the Archbishop's formal appoint- ment as Abbazia rector. By the time these cases were fully resolved, in 2017 the Church and Carravan had al- ready agreed to appoint Carra- van's lawyer Peter Valentino, as the Abbazia's rector. In 2019, the Abbazia started a transfer of the lands to Carravan: a 23,000sq.m tract at Għar Bof- fa in Qala for an annual €43,000 emphyteusis, a 27,000sq.m tract at Tas-Sajtun in Nadur for €35,500. In 2020, Carrvan reg- istered €3 million in revenues (up from €362,000 the previous year). Valentino was presented by Carravan alongside a cleric. "Both were considered worthy, but the Archbishop preferred not having a cleric involved in the administration of property not owned by the Church. Dr Valentino's nomination was therefore confirmed by a formal deed of agreement between both parties in 2017," the Church told MaltaToday. That formal agreement deter- mined that the Church would re- ceive the capital sum of €200,000 from the patrons, so that inter- est received on this sum would cover pious obligations, estab- lished by the foundress Cosma- na Navarra, which are executed by the Church. "The patrons further bound themselves to in- crease this capital in future if the interest generated is not suffi- cient to cover these obligations," the Church said. Under Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Church also has changed its interpretation of the Abbazia's constitution as an ec- clesiastical benefice. The issue of whether the Abba- zia is lay or ecclesiastical is itself an unresolved matter, legally: different courts have recognised the Abbazia as either lay, or ec- clesiastical, in separate sittings. Judge Gino Camilleri in 2010 decreed that the Abbazia was lay, having been founded by a lay person for her heirs; but in 2011, Judge Joseph Zammit McKeon decreed that the Abbazia was an ecclesiastical entity in a relat- ed case on the ownership of the lands. "The land was not owned by the Church and any property be- longing to this lay giuspatronato was not ecclesiastical property," the Church said. The deed of the Abbazia allows its 'rector' to grant parcels of the property in emphyteusis but not outright sale. "The Church has acted throughout in accordance with decisions of Malta's courts and will continue to do so." Church justifies decision on Gozo land

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