Caruana Galizia’s heirs refuse Muscat’s settlement offer in Egrant libel case

Heirs of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia presented a formal reply, in which they advised the court that they rejected the Prime Minister’s out of court settlement offer to drop the libel case against their mother which they ended up defending after her murder.

Muscat had indicated that he would be willing to drop the Egrant libel case if the heirs “unconditionally accepted the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry”.

In a January court sitting, when Muscat was testifying in a libel case he had filed against Caruana Galizia over a blog post written by the journalist in which it was alleged that Egrant belonged to Michelle Muscat, he had asked the heirs to admit wrongdoing by the slain journalist and “offered” to drop the libel case.

The heirs presented their formal reply on Thursday which was signed by Joseph Zammit Maempel.

In their note, the Caruana Galizia family says that the lack of access to the full Egrant inquiry places them in an impossible position where they are being pressured into accepting unilaterally the conclusion of an inquiry without access to the basis of such conclusions including not least their mother’s own sworn testimony.

The heirs said that without access to the full report they therefore did not have access to Caruana Galizia’s testimony, to the testimony given by the Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova, as well as to the testimony by Jacqueline Alexander and whether she confirmed or denied that she had signed the trust document which showed that the ultimate beneficial owner was Michelle Muscat.

READ: Egrant Inquiry: Jacqueline Alexander and fifty shades of shady

Further given that they had no access to the inquiry report, the heirs did not have access to the testimony given by Brian Tonna and Karl Cini on who was in possession of the bearer share certificates that present 99% equity in Egrant and in whose name where they held.

Finally the heirs said that they did not have access to the reports prepared by the forensic accountants that were appointed by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja himself to examine and analyse Pilatus Bank’s operational database, accounts and archives.

Muscat had referred to the findings of the magisterial inquest into Egrant by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja, which did not find any evidence connecting the Prime Minister or any member of his family with Egrant, in his testimony in January. In the main conclusions published, the Magistrate had also said that by means of a rogatory leter, Jacqueline Alexander had declared that the signature on the declaration of trust does not belong to her. Alexander who was responsible for some 17,500 companies and worked for the notorious firm Mossack Fonesca, had her signature appear on the declaration of trust of the Egrant company, however she had declared that the signature on the trust was not hers.

READ: Muscat willing to drop Caruana Galizia libel case if heirs accept Egrant inquiry findings

The main conclusions of the report, which amount to some 3% of the “voluminous” inquiry report were published in July 2018. However the full report, which is not accessible to the heirs, remained unpublished to date.

A copy of the reply may be found, here.