Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle have not retracted libel cases they had instigated against Daphne Caruana Galizia for the Egrant story.
The late journalist’s son Matthew confirmed the libel cases are still open, while a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the Muscats are taking the necessary advice on how to proceed with them.
The Muscats had sued Caruana Galizia for libel last year after she wrote that Michelle Muscat was the ultimate beneficial owner of the mysterious offshore company Egrant.
Joseph Muscat had asked the court to hear the libel cases with urgency, but magistrate Francesco Depasquele rejected this request – arguing there was no reason they should be given precedence over other pending libel suits.
“I regret the court’s decision but I respect it and will cooperate every stage of the way,” Muscat had said in a statement. “Nobody wants the truth, and the truth under oath, to emerge more than myself and my family.”
By law, civil libel cases can proceed after a defendant’s death but only if both the plaintiffs and the defendant’s heirs agree.
After Caruana Galizia’s assassination last October, her family insisted her libel cases continue – although a number of them, including those instigated by Opposition leader Adrian Delia and Economy Minister Chris Cardona have since been dropped.
The Egrant libel cases have been given new meaning in the wake of the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry – which found no basis to Caruana Galizia’s claim that the Panama company belongs to Michelle Muscat.