Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco (first left).
MORE Ethical conundrum surrounding judges' code of ethocs
The Justice Minister has asked President George Abela to investigate Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco, as head of the Malta Olympic Committee, over serious allegations regarding the Olympics ticket scandal which emerged in The Sunday Times of London.
But members of the legal profession remained tight-lipped when contacted over this issue by MaltaToday.
Justice Minister Said on Monday asked President George Abela to investigate Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco, over allegations made in The Sunday Times of London. Farrugia Sacco and MOC general secretary Joe Cassar were covertly recorded by two undercover reporters, posing as envoys of a Middle Eastern ticket tout, and could be heard explaining how high mark-ups for the tickets could be "camouflaged" through "subtle" marketing techniques.
Certain national Olympic committees have already been accused by the newspaper of selling tickets to third parties for resale on the black market: a practice expressly prohibited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The MOC was not one of these, but the Sunday Times article nonetheless suggested Malta may have been willing to have its tickets sold by agents outside its borders.
Farrugia Sacco has since denied all allegations of wrongdoing. But even without this suspicion, the presence of a judge on a committee is in contravention of the code of ethics for judges, and as such Farrugia Sacco's position as MOC chairman has been the subject of media controversy for years.
Asked if an individual occupying an institutional position should form part of a committee, like in Farrugia Sacco's case, Jose Herrera, shadow justice minister, appeared to acknowledge the existence of an ethical dilemma.
"It all depends on the position the individual occupied. Some roles are incompatible whereas others aren't."
He however added that the decision had to be made solely by the individual, whether it's a conflict of interest or not. Others in the legal profession were less forthcoming. Reuben Balzan, president, Malta Chamber of Advocates preferred not to comment. "I sit on the board of the Chamber of Advocates and think it's inappropriate to comment in the light of an investigation," he said.
Pippo Psaila, former national football coach and MOC chairman, also steered clear of any controversy....as, uncharacteristically, did lawyer and outspoken government MP Franco Debono, who declined to comment on the issue.
A spokesperson for the Parliamentary Secretariat for Youth and Sport limited his comment to MaltaToday to the following: "the President and the General Secretary of the Malta Olympic Committee are elected by the member (sports) associations and government has no say in these appointments.