Magistrate who received threats adjourns Repubblika case over AG's Pilatus bank inaction

Magistrate Nadine Lia received an anonymous threatening letter, warning her that her career and personal life were at stake

A magisterial inquiry had recommended criminal action against several officials of the now shuttered Pilatus Bank
A magisterial inquiry had recommended criminal action against several officials of the now shuttered Pilatus Bank

Magistrate Nadine Lia, who is presiding over challenge proceedings by Repubblika over police inaction against former Pilatus Bank officials, has adjourned the case to October.

During Thursday’s sitting, the court informed the parties that it had received an anonymous letter in connection with these proceedings and put the case off till October.

A magisterial inquiry was also launched into the threatening letter that Lia received, warning that her career and personal life were at stake.

The magistrate then immediately excused herself, stood up and left the courtroom, ignoring Repubblika’s lawyer Jason Azzopardi's request to begin dictating a note.

The entire sitting lasted less than one minute.

NGO Repubblika “unreservedly” condemned the threats Lia received, saying that although it had openly criticised Lia, criticism had to be done civilly.

On Monday, Repubblika filed constitutional proceedings over Lia’s refusal to recuse herself from the challenge proceedings.

In the challenge proceedings, Repubblika requested the court to compel the Police Commissioner to prosecute several individuals singled out by the Pilatus Bank inquiry.

Repubblika said it had shown that the Pilatus inquiry had ended in March 2021 and that amongst its conclusions, it had ordered the police to press money laundering and criminal conspiracy charges against several individuals.

These included “close friends of ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his ex-Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, as well as that the magisterial inquiry had found grounds for additional charges of trading in influence against Schembri,” it said.

The challenge proceedings had been assigned to Lia, who is usually assigned such cases. Repubblika had immediately asked the magistrate to recuse herself from hearing this case, on the grounds that she is married to the son of Joseph Muscat’s lawyer, Pawlu Lia.

The case will now continue on 27 October, after the first sitting of the constitutional case, which is scheduled for October 7.