Chamber of Advocates expresses 'deep concern' about aspects of Caruana Galizia murder investigation

The Chamber of Advocates said that the current situation needed to be handled by 'people in power who are free of conflicts of interest, or who, if conflicted, act and appear to act with unusual restraint'

The Chamber of Advocates has expressed its “deep concern” at recent events relating to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation.

In a statement issued this morning, the Chamber said there was little it could add to describe the events; “they speak most eloquently for themselves and any further comment would be superfluous.”

The Chamber, which is the governing body for the legal profession in Malta, said that the situation needed to be handled by “people in power who are free of conflicts of interest, or who, if conflicted, act and appear to act with unusual restraint, particularly when police investigations involve present or past ministers and holders of high office.”

In this case, the conflicts of interest are “self-evident and pose a clear and present danger to the investigation and the subsequent judicial process.”

“More than ever, our institutions need to be allowed to conduct their duties calmly, but boldly and without any form of undue pressure, and with particular restraint from those who are conflicted.

“The proper, measured use of pardons, for instance, is a matter of concern to the Chamber. A pardon to an individual involved in serious crime is indeed only granted in exceptional circumstances. That pardon is granted by the President of the Republic who acts upon the advice of the Executive arm of the state.

“The advice of the Executive signifies that both the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General have a vital role in properly assessing and eventually advising who should shoulder responsibility for the criminal actions and who should be exonerated a priori from such responsibility: a function normally belonging to the judiciary following a trial. The independence of that advice, both in fact as well as in perception, is therefore of the utmost importance. Of course, the decision rests, ultimately, with the Executive, which must be equally above suspicion, if not more so. In this particular case, the grant or withholding of a pardon – or pardons – is far more delicate than usual, for reasons which need hardly be explained. Hence the Chamber’s insistence that decisions are taken by persons who are not conflicted or by persons who, if possible, are properly advised on the management of that conflict and who act with unusual restraint," The Chamber said. 

The Chamber reiterated "the importance of returning the country to a state of normality and proper governance; and to undertake with utmost urgency the required constitutional reforms to ensure the resilience and independence of vital institutions from the executive arm of the State, including particularly the requirement of a Commissioner of Police and an Attorney General elected by two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives.”

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