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Brothel allegations: Minister's phone location data to be preserved

TAP data about Chris Cardona and his aide will be kept

Minister Chris Cardona (inset) and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Minister Chris Cardona (inset) and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The mobile telephony data likely to shed light upon the whereabouts of Minister Chris Cardona and his personal aide, lawyer Joseph Gerada, during an official visit to Germany last January, is to be preserved.

The decision was taken by Magistrate Francesco Depasquale presiding over libel proceedings against blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Ms Caruana Galizia was sued for libel after alleging that the two men while on an official visit to Germany, visited a brothel in Velbert. Her lawyers requested the court to order the preservation of data stored on Transferred Account Procedure (TAP) files.

Such data could shed light on calls and messages made by both the minister and Dr Gerada while on official duties abroad and would serve as scientific evidence of their whereabouts. This meant that the data could prove crucial in determining whether the men did actually visit Velbert, the location of the Saunaclub Acapulco, during their official trip to Germany between January 30 and February 1.

Dr Cardona and his aide had denied the escapade as alleged by the blogger on her Running Commentary, insisting that they had never strayed from Essen, which is some 20km away from Velbert, the location of FKK Acapulco.

This morning, just before the lapse of the six-month time-frame for the data to be erased, the court delivered its decision whereby it ordered Vodafone, Go and Melita to declare within one week from todaywhether they provide mobile telephony service to the Minister and Dr Gerada via any number registered in their name, in the name of the respective ministry or place of work.

Any TAP file containing data relative to the time-frame between January 30 and February 1 is to be preserved with immediate effect. Moreover, data relative to the period from January 30 between 5.00pm and 12.00am to January 31 between 2.00pm and 7.00pm, is to be deposited in a sealed envelope with the Court Registrar within one week from today. The seal will only be broken when the court so declares.

Moreover, data relative to the period from January 30 between 5.00pm and 12.00am to January 31 between 2.00pm and 7.00pm, is to be deposited in a sealed envelope with the Court Registrar within one week from today. The seal will only be broken when the court so declares.

All personal data, including telephone numbers, relative to third parties contained within such preserved TAP files is to be removed by the service provider before the documents are presented in court.

Once the files are deposited in court, they are to be preserved by the Registrar in a safe and secluded place pending any request by the court for their production as evidence in the libel proceedings.

The court finally ordered the notification of its decree to all local service providers, namely Vodafone, GO and Melita, with immediate effect.

The case continues in October.

Lawyers Pawlu Lia and Mark Vassallo appeared for Minister Cardona and Dr Gerada.

Lawyers Joseph Zammit Maempel and Antonio Ghio appeared for Ms Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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