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Updated | Caruana Galizia family requests abstention of inquiring magistrate in murder

Attorney General expected not to oppose family's request to have Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera removed from inquiry because of conflict of interest having been a subject of criticism by Daphne Caruana Galizia

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
16 October 2017, 7:38pm
Consuelo Scerri Herrera
Consuelo Scerri Herrera
The family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has requested that the Chief Justice removes duty magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera from the inquiry into the car bomb explosion.

MaltaToday is informed that the Attorney General will not oppose the request.

Scerri Herrera was on duty as the magistrate to kick-start the inquiry into the explosion that claimed the Malta Independent columnist’s life on Monday, 16 October.

In a court writ filed by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, the Caruana Galizia family said Scerri Herrera was a frequent target of criticism of Caruana Galizia, having taken the blogger to court for libel.

“It is not right that Scerri Herrera takes up this inquiry as duty magistrate given the flagrant conflict of interest that can prejudice the inquiry. We have no faith in Scerri Herrera and we do not believe she can conduct a serious and impartial inquiry into the brutal death of one of the country’s leading journalists.”

The family asked that the Chief Justice instructs Scerri Herrera to abstain on the inquiry.

Scerri Herrera had earned a rebuke from the Commission for the Administration of Justice for breaching the judiciary’s code of ethics with behaviour that had compromised her integrity and personal dignity – namely by her attendance at parties and seeking public exposure, but also entertaining the amorous advances of a police inspector.

The revelations were made in Caruana Galizia’s blog, during a saga where Scerri Herrera and her companion, Robert Musumeci, became the target of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

It was at a dinner party which Scerri Herrera hosted some time in January 2010, when her dinner guests included the broadcaster Lou Bondì and his partner Rachel Attard, that the magistrate had gloated that the press would break the news that Caruana Galizia’s husband had filed a domestic violence report against his wife.

When Caruana Galizia got wind of the gossip, she struck hard with an unstinting volley of blogs and photos of the partying magistrate that had been posted on Facebook.

Those allegations became the subject of the Commission’s investigation, and a criminal defamation action that Scerri Herrera later retracted.

Caruana Galizia used her blogs to question the suitability of the magistrate.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.