The former deputy leader of the Labour Party who has since been appointed judge, Toni Abela, was defence lawyer for Pierre Darmanin in a case in which he was accused of theft, fraud and misappropriation.
Darmanin is at the centre of allegations involving calls to Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Alfred Degiorgio – one of the men accused of assassinating journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia almost a year ago.
In 2000, Darmanin was accused of taking a boat and trailer from a third party and never returning them. Judgment was delivered in 2005, in which Darmanin was ordered to pay a sum of money as compensation.
Abela was his lawyer in the case – a fact ommitted by the government when feeding the media the line that Darmanin was linked to Peter Caruana Galizia – the late journalist’s husband.
A search in the court’s database resulted in a list of lawyers who worked for Darmanin, including former Labour candidate Rachel Tua who was his lawyer as recently as 2016. Tua had personal relations with Darmanin.
Rather than the association of Judge Abela with Darmanin, the point is that the government used client-lawyer links to question the motive of Caruana Galizia’s family. If those links imply anything, it should apply to all. Yet, the government was selective in what it put forward.
The government’s head of communications raised the client-lawyer link between Caruana Galizia and Darmanin on social media, questioning whether this meant the Daphne Project was being misled, while ignoring similar links between Darmanin and members of the Labour Party.
The news was picked up by Malta Today, and the Labour Party’s TV station then carried it as a ‘follow up’ to a report in the mainstream media – there was no reference to members of the Labour Party having also acted as Darmanin’s lawyers.
Moreover, while the government pushed client-lawyer links to deflect criticism by casting doubts on the family of the victim, it played down those same client-lawyer links are ‘normal’ in Cardona’s defence of Vincent Muscat – another individual with a long criminal history accused of murdering Caruana Galizia.