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MP loses attempt to halt criminal libel case

Criminal libel proceedings against Labour MP José Herrera will go ahead after a court threw out his request to declare the case null.

In February 2008, the former chairman of the Malta Maritime Authority, Marc Bonello had initiated a civil libel suit and criminal libel proceedings against Dr Herrera over comments made during a political activity when he said his architectural firm had won two contracts to build the Gozo ferry terminals in Ċirkewwa and Mġarr and that this was a conflict of interest due to the position Dr Bonello occupied.

Dr Herrera filed a preliminary plea in the criminal libel proceedings calling on the court to declare the case null. He argued that Dr Bonello’s complaint should not have resulted in the police taking action against him.

However, Magistrate Silvio Meli pointed out the Press Act allowed anyone who felt libelled to take “bi-polar” action and initiate concurrent civil and criminal libel proceedings.

Once the criminal libel case star­ted, through a formal complaint to the police, it was then up to the police to exercise their social duty and see the case through. The court turned down Dr Herrera’s request and ordered the continuation of the case.

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