There has been major blowback over court proceedings against a Maltese satirical website, leading to several people, including the National Book Council Chairman, offering serious financial support to the site.
The operator of Bis-Serjeta’, a humorous website that regularly lambasts Maltese politics and news, faces up to one month in prison and a potential fine of €2,329 after the lawyers of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech complained about unfair coverage against their client, leading to magistrate Rachel Montebello initiating court proceedings.
Mark Camilleri has now pledged to pay the €2,329 fine in its entirety if Bis-Serjeta’ is found guilty.
“Today, I have committed to pay the full fine for Bis-Serjeta’ if effected. I’ll stand with my friends against the mafia as always. We don’t fear them and we need to show it,” Camilleri said.
— Mark Camilleri (@markcamilleri5) January 5, 2021
Camilleri himself was recently the subject of a freedom of speech debacle after a heated back-and-forth between himself and one of Fenech’s lawyers.
On an island so lacking in political satire, the Bis-Serjeta’ case could have a chilling effect on political criticism.
And many on Maltese social media were quick to call out the court proceedings, with some describing it as “an attack on freedom of speech itself”.
Reacting to the public show of support, Karl Stennienibarra said he had claimed asylum in Costa Rica and sardonically noted: “At this point, I have more lawyers than readers”.
You can support Bis-Serjeta’ by following this link.