A Maltese doctor accused of taking advantage of an elderly man before he passed away from COVID-19 has opened up about their very close relationship.
The two sisters of the late Mario Mangion, who passed away aged 69 on 5th February, have filed a judicial protest claiming that Jan Chircop took advantage of their brother to become the sole heir in Mangion’s will. They also claimed that notary Joseph Cilia had committed irregularities in the publication of the will, MaltaToday reported.
However, Chircop has vehemently denied that version of events, saying Mangion was like “a second father” to him, and was someone he has known since he was nine years old.
“Mario Mangion handed me a copy of his will on the day he drew it up. Not on the 11th hour. But four months before he died unexpectedly from COVID-19. He even annotated with (in his handwriting), ‘Vera kopja lill-Jan’,” Chircop said in a public response to the allegations against him.
“He asked me to hold this copy for my own safekeeping,” he continued, before turning to the two sisters. “They were obviously unaware of his wishes following his death. And that is why I had to let them know I was the prospective heir. Please note the will has not been opened,” he said.
Chircop went on to respond to a number of claims made against him, such as the fact that even though Mangion’s will stipulated that he should be buried near his parents at Gudja cemetery, he was instead buried elsewhere, something the Mangion sisters say should automatically lead to Chircop losing his right to be sole heir.
“Regarding the issue of his burial – Mario owned three tombs. It was his sisters who decided where Mario was buried. Also, in light of the fact that the tomb is unable to be re-opened within 10 years according to regulations since he dies from COVID-19, he was buried in an alternative tomb. Not together with his parents. They took this decision so they can be buried there if the need arises,” he said.
“Mario did express the wish to be buried next to his parents,” he continued. “He never explicitly assigned this duty to anyone. He then went on to write, explicitly instructing me this time, according to Mario’s wish to take care that said sisters are buried in the same tomb as their parents.”
“In line with this, I did not impede them from burying their brother in any of the family tombs. Again, his sisters decided where he was buried and that was not my duty. I took care of all funeral expenses in full. His wish to be buried with his parents was a wish and not a condition. I also told them I was doing so beforehand, with no expenses spared.”
Chircop ended by pledging to respond to the judicial protest with his own legal action while reiterating that he is rightful heir to Mangion’s property.
“I am the rightful heir to Mario Mangion according to the will he handed me last October, much to Jane and Alberta’s disappointment. It is a real pity, his sisters lacked respect towards Mario’s wishes. On a more somber note, these people did not even let me grieve the loss of my second father in peace. I’m actually saddened for them too.”
Notary Cilia, who was also mentioned in the sisters’ claims, also took to social media to give his side of the story.
He called any allegations that he had published the will illegally “completely without basis and I deny it completely”.
Others took to publicly decry the claims against Chircop and Cilia, with some saying that the pair’s connection to the Labour Party – Cilia is a former Labour MP and Chircop’s father was Labour MP Karl Chircop – was being used against them.
Chircop and Cilia were given 24 hours by the Mangion sisters to return all goods to the sisters and to cease acting as Mangion’s heir. Lawyers Frank Cassar and Ruth Scott signed the judicial protest.