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‘I Will Die In Defence Of Free Speech’: Pia Zammit Reacts After Today’s Controversial Judgement

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Actress Pia Zammit has spoken out publicly for the first time after losing a libel case against a Maltese newspaper that she says slandered her and implied she was a Nazi sympathiser.

Thanking people for showing her support, Zammit said she’d held back from “screaming from the rooftops” following today’s decision and is seeking legal advice for her next step – but had some choice words on freedom of speech.

“Everything I do is aimed at giving people the power to use their voice – to speak truth to power, to demand their right to freedom of speech – irrespective of their partisan political or belief system. I will die in defence of free speech – at no point was this case about taking away journalistic rights. It was about the established media bullying a citizen,” she said.

The case revolves around a local newspaper, It-Torċa, who had published a backstage photo of Zammit dressed in WW2 garb as part of a the comedy show ‘Allo ‘Allo, which is about the French resistance during the German occupation of France.

Since today’s court decision, Maltese artists have come out in droves to show solidarity with Zammit – and she wanted to send a message to them.

“Please please (and I’m in particular addressing my students here – past, present and future) please don’t let today ever stop your voice. You have a right to your voice. We’ll keep fighting this until you are free to speak out without fear or consequence. That’s my promise,” she said.
She ended with “PS – Still not a fridge” in reference to the time she dressed as a fridge.

In the wake of the court’s decision, many Maltese artists took to social media to post photos of themselves acting as characters in plays alongside cheeky remarks that they aren’t the person they dressed us.

Many were waiting on authorities like Arts Council Malta or Teatru Malta to come to Zammit’s support – however, the pair issued a lukewarm statement that was roundly criticised by actors.

“Arts Council Malta and Teatru Malta maintain, that together with the Government they will continue to ensure that the artists’ fundamental rights are strengthened furthermore in the future, especially since the last couple of years have seen the execution of necessary legal reforms, particularly related to the changes in laws related to the rights of artists and the Media and Defamation Act,” they said.

“Would love to see the version of this that didn’t go through two lawyers and three communications coordinators,” remarked actor and director Philip Leone-Ganado.

Do you think Malta’s freedom of speech was weakened or strengthened today?

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