Pilatus bank challenge proceedings: New magistrate assigned to hear the case

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit will be preceding over proceedings over alleged inaction in prosecuting senior Pilatus Bank officials

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit
Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit

Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti has assigned challenge proceedings over alleged inaction in prosecuting senior Pilatus Bank officials to Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit.

The proceedings were filed by Repubblika against the Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà.

The case was reassigned at the orders of the Constitutional Court after being taken out of the hands of magistrate Nadine Lia, who had previously rejected three recusal requests filed by the anti-corruption NGO.

The recusal was requested in view of the fact that the magistrate is related by marriage to Pawlu Lia, lawyer to former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

The NGO also claimed that the presiding magistrate had shown hostility to the NGO and its representatives during the sitting, arguing that it would suffer irremediable prejudice were she to continue presiding over the case.

In a ruling handed down on 19 October, Mr Justice Ian Spiteri Bailey allowed the challenge proceedings to continue whilst ordering that the case be assigned to a different magistrate.

The judge observed that a hostile attitude had developed between the magistrate and Repubblika, which culminated in a disagreement over what really went on during a sitting in which the magistrate had read out a threatening letter she had received and immediately exited the courtroom.

He observed that the court records of that sitting did not reflect what had actually happened, as per news reports by journalists present inside the courtroom.

The case is now expected to start before magistrate Stafrace Zammit on November 16.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi assisted Repubblika.