Repubblika argues Magistrate Lia has direct financial interest in Pilatus Bank case

Documents submitted in court show Magistrate Nadine Lia stands to inherit a number of properties from her father-in-law lawyer Pawlu Lia

Magistrate Nadine Lia
Magistrate Nadine Lia

Magistrate Nadine Lia stands to inherit from her father-in-law Pawlu Lia, and so has a financial interest in the outcome of challenge proceedings filed by Repubblika, documents submitted in court show.

The documents, the NGO is arguing, show the magistrate not only has a moral interest, but a financial one and so should recuse herself from the case.

The documents submitted on Monday, show the magistrate stands to inherit a number of properties belonging to lawyer Pawlu Lia.

The NGO had filed a judicial letter back in July, against the Attorney General accusing the State prosecutor of persistently refusing to charge a number of high-ranking individuals recommended for prosecution in the conclusions of the magisterial inquiry into Pilatus Bank.

During that hearing, Repubblika warned that they would be requesting the recusal of Magistrate Nadine Lia, who was appointed to preside the challenge proceedings.

After Magistrate Lia refused to step aside from the hearing, Repubblika announced that it will be summoning Joseph Muscat’s lawyer Pawlu Lia to testify.

In September, in the application signed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, the NGO requested that Pawlu Lia be summoned in order to confirm on oath that he is the magistrate's father-in-law and that he is also a legal advisor to both former prime minister Joseph Muscat, as well as Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

This relationship would be relevant, Repubblika said, in view of Muscat and Schembri’s well documented close ties to Pilatus Bank, the now-shuttered private bank; and the fact that all three are important players in the Egrant case.

Nonetheless, Lia stuck to her decision and dismissed the recusal request, pointing out that both the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police declared in court that they had never provided copies, nor any details of the inquiry report, to Repubblika or its representatives.

Repubblika stressed that the 29 August decree meant that the magistrate saw nothing wrong in presiding a case in which she would decide on whether to order the police to institute criminal proceedings against a prominent and recent former client of her father-in-law, who is also a politically exposed person (PEP), as well as close friends of this former client.

The NGO also explained how it reserved its right to file constitutional proceedings in both Malta and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg should the magistrate continue to refuse its recusal request.