A public inquiry board which is looking into the circumstances surrounding Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination has ordered the preservation of Economy Minister Chris Cardona’s phone data for the night on which the late journalist had alleged he was at a German brothel.
The board ordered the preservation of this phone data at the start of today’s sitting, following a request by lawyers representing the Caruana Galizia family.
The courts had previously preserved this data as part of libel suits that Cardona and his aide Joe Gerada had instigated against Caruana Galizia, but those libel suits have since been dropped.
However, it is as yet unknown whether these records will ever see the light of day as the board of inquiry’s terms of reference allows it to redact some information in its final report. If it does, the board is bound to provide the Caruana Galizia family with a full copy that cannot be published.
Back in January 2017, Daphne Caruana Galziia wrote that Cardona and Gerada had a threesome with a prostitute at the FKK Acapulco nightclub in Velbert during a state visit to Germany.
The blog included copious details, including quotes attributed to the minister, with Caruana Galizia stating her source was inside the brothel.
“My source is not some random reader who rang me or messaged me out of the blue and who I don’t know,” Caruana Galizia had said. “He is somebody who has known me since I was a baby, and who knows my family of origin over several generations. For reasons that are obvious, he would have no reason to invent the story, no reason to lie to me (but rather the opposite), and every reason to keep quiet and say nothing.”
The following day, Caruana Galizia published another blog, writing that a second source had informed her that Cardona and Gerada had returned to the same brothel at around 4pm the following day.
However, an SMS exchange published in court after Caruana Galizia’s murder show that the texts were sent from Malta, and not from Germany, casting serious doubt on the credibility of this second source.
Cardona and Gerada vehemently denied this story, each suing Caruana Galizia for libel for both of her stories and issuing a precautionary warrant against her pending the outcome of the case, a draconian move that prompted the government to pass legislation to forbid such further action against journalists.
Caruana Galizia responded by demanding the court obtain the mobile phone geolocation data for the dates they were supposed to be at the FKK Acapulco, but Cardona and Gerada refuted this on the grounds that Caruana Galizia should provide proof herself to back up her story.
Magistrate Francesco Depasquale never got to make a decision on whether to publish this data or not, as Caruana Galizia was assassinated a few months later and the libels subsequently dropped.
Joe Gerada’s ex wife had also tried to preserve this phone data as part of separation proceedings, but GO warned the family court that this request fell foul of the law regulating the processing of personal electronic data. This law states that such data should only be disclosed to the police or the Security Service for the purpose of the investigation, detection or prosecution of serious crimes.
The lawyer also noted that the geolocation data requested would not pinpoint a subject’s exact address, but rather the Cell ID number pertaining to the base station subsystem that was closest to Gerada’s mobile phone during that time period.
The court agreed with GO’s arguments and decided not to order the preservation of this data.