Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera recuses herself from Vince Muscat HSBC case

Judge recuses herself on request of HSBC heist suspect Vince Muscat over claim he can link Labour minister to 2010 robbery 

Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera
Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera will not be presiding over the trial of alleged HSBC bank robber Vince Muscat, after acceding to his request that she recuse herself.     

Scerri Herrera’s brother, Jose Herrera, is a Labour minister.

Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, allegedly told police investigators that he can link two high-profile Labour politicians to the botched 2010 robbery in a second request for a presidential pardon.

In his application requesting the judge’s recusal, Muscat had stated that the judge’s brother was not one of the two politicians linked to the crime but added that he had a close relationship with them, by virtue of his work.

Muscat’s lawyer Marc Sant argued that it was in the interest of justice for Judge Scerri Herrera to abstain from hearing the case, to ensure no shadow was cast on the judicial process.

 In her decree on the matter, Scerri Herrera quoted from local and ECHR case law on the subject, concluding that she was upholding the request “so that justice is not only done but is seen to be done.”

The case has now been sent to the Chief Justice for reassignment.

 Muscat, the convicted hitman in the Caruana Galizia murder, first made the request in January after he had given police investigators insight into the botched heist, allegedly implicating a former minister and a sitting minister among the players in the plot, in an attempt to secure a presidential pardon on a number of crimes he was involved in.

In February, Muscat was granted a presidential pardon for his role in the fatal drive-by shooting of Birkirkara lawyer Carmel Chircop in 2015, in exchange for inside information about the murder plot.

Muscat pleaded guilty to his involvement in the 2017 Bidnija car bomb murder of Caruana Galizia and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

He has also requested a second pardon to reveal inside information on three other crimes, two failed robberies and a murder, which remain unsolved. The HSBC heist trial was scheduled to take place earlier in January but was put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two other alleged hitmen, George and Alfred Degiorgio, have also asked for a presidential pardon in exchange for information about the murder. They also claim to have knowledge that could implicate an ex-minister and a current minister in masterminding an attempted robbery.