Advocates’ chamber seriously concerned over PM’s Egrant inquiry comment

Prime Minister’s imprudent comments on magistrate carrying out Egrant inquiry spark serious concern with Chamber of Advocates

Inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja
Inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja

The Chamber of Advocates expressed serious concern at comments made by the Prime Minister on TVM’s Xtra, when he suggested that it would be the magistrate’s responsibility to carry if the Nationalists are elected and the Egrant inquiry subsequently absolves Joseph Muscat.

Chamber president George Hyzler said such comments constituted inappropriate pressure on the inquiring magistrate and go beyond all limits of prudence and responsibility.

“The Chamber notes that it was the Prime Minister himself who had set the inquiry in motion and it was he who had also called a general election in the shortest time allowed by the Constitution, as is his prerogative.

“Magisterial Inquiries require time to be concluded and it is a known fact that the inquiring magistrate is dedicating all his time to this inquiry given the particular circumstances in which it has been called. The Chamber also points out that it is not within the Prime Minister’s remit to determine by when such an inquiry should be concluded.”

Magistrate Aaron Bugeja has been tasked with an inquiry into allegations by the Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia that Joseph Muscat’s wife Michelle is the owner of a secret Panamanian offshore company. Muscat denies the allegation and filed a complaint to the police so that a magisterial inquiry takes place.

The Chamber of Advocates said it was appealing to the press and to politicians in particular to refrain from making certain comments in respect to the judiciary.

“The Judiciary should always be allowed to carry out its duties serenely and without any interference or pressure. This applies more so during the tense time immediately prior to the general election.”