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MALTATODAY 19 December 2021

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 DECEMBER 2021 NEWS SHUTDOWN NOTICE The Chairman, Board Members, Management and Employees wish everyone a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year. The Authority would like to no fy its clients and the public that the offices will be closed from the 23 rd December 2021 un l the 2 nd January 2022, both days included. The Authority's emergency services will s ll be available through 2292 3500, throughout the shutdown except for Christmas and New Year's Day. Hexagon House Spencer Hill Marsa, MRS 1441 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff ordered that the data be exhib- ited in a constitutional court case filed by lawyers of Yorgen Fenech, alleged mastermind of the Caruana Galizia assassina- tion. August 2021: discovery of new data The surprise discovery of the data extraction from another of Keith Schembri's devices was requested back in August 2021 in the course of the constitu- tional case, in which Fenech is attempting to get the lead police investigator, Keith Arnaud, tak- en off the murder investigation. Fenech's lawyers claim the "newly discovered extractions" could help them prove Fenech's allegations that implicate Keith Schembri – formerly right-hand man to prime minister Joseph Muscat – in the journalist's as- sassination or corruption, and also allege that Arnaud himself had close ties to Schembri. Judge orders data is exhibited, Gafà disagrees But there may be more than meets the eye. Because while the judge said Fenech's lawyers can be shown the data that could as- sist them in their constitutional case, Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafà has insisted on ap- pealing the order: if the police has to present this evidence, it should be within the ongoing criminal inquiry against Fenech, not in the constitutional court. In fact Fenech's lawyers will be entitled to select information from these chats related to their constitutional case, but they will also be able to glean through any other information they say was withheld from them by the po- lice. Disagreement with State Advocate But a disagreement is appar- ent between State Advocate and Gafà over Chris Soler's apparent readiness to have the data ex- hibited in court, and to boot, re- nounce the option to appeal the judge's order. Back in summer, Gafà told the court that Fenech's lawyers were attempting a vexatious "fishing expedition" intended to drag out proceedings, and that the data did not have any relevance to the murder case. While Fenech's lawyers think this data could help their bid to remove Arnaud from the case, the police are confident the da- ta has nothing pertaining to the murder case. Fenech's lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca insisted that such evidence could not be kept se- cret when it could pertain to high-ranking members of the government, given the history of Keith Schembri's meddling in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation. The court agreed, finding that Gafà's testimony indicated there was more data to be analysed from the extraction. Soler relinquishes appeal MaltaToday is informed that the State Advocate, comforted by police investigators that the data content was not advan- tageous to Fenech's bid, had advised that the police comply with the judge's order. That advice – conferred in court with Assistant Commis- sioner Alexandra Mamo present – included a commitment not to appeal the judge's order. But it did not enjoy Gafà's backing. A week later, the State Advocate's underling was back in court, requesting an appeal on the order, much to the con- sternation of Judge Lawrence Mintoff. Whether Soler was motivat- ed by the belief that the data would not help Fenech's case, or whether he had been naive not to attempt the customary appeal to uphold the police force's ob- durate defence of their evidence, remains to be seen. But Soler refused to request the appeal, otherwise the Com- missioner of Police would not have employed his underling Maurizio Cordina to appear in his stead earlier this week to re- quest the appeal. Fenech's lawyers protested, saying the State Advocate had already declared in a long and detailed verbal note that the Court's order would be fol- lowed. Mintoff agreed, accusing the Commissioner of Police of em- ploying "nebulous" stratagems so that the Schembri mobile phone data remains protected "even at the cost of irreverence to the orders and decrees of Malta's Courts of Constitutional jurisdiction." Soler's no-show did him no fa- vours, with Mintoff ordering he be brought before his court for a dressing down in which the judge fined him for contempt of court. The judge then delivered a strongly-worded decree, point- ing out to Soler that he had minuted, in the presence of AC Mamo, that the police would exhibit the data and renounce their right to appeal. Soler argued that his previous declaration had been dictated in good faith. But he was also bound by professional secrecy to represent his master's wishes faithfully. The judge highlighted that even Mamo was physically present in court and had voiced no objection to the decree. Soler and Gafà at loggerheads over appeal on data State Advocate Chris Soler (left) and Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà

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