Chamber of Advocates reports Jason Azzopardi to Justice Commission over Facebook comments

The comments targeted judge Giovanni Grixti after he was outed as having bought a boat from Yorgen Fenech's father in 2008

The Commission for the Administration of Justice has been asked by the Chamber of Advocates to look into comments made by Jason Azzopardi about sitting judge Giovanni Grixti. 

Chamber president Louis de Gabriele sent the letter in his name on 10 September, requesting that the Commission look into comments made by Azzopardi last month before a crucial decree from Grixti himself. 

It had been revealed last August that Grixti bought a 50ft motor yacht, Spensierata, from the father of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech back in 2008 when he was already a magistrate.

This was revealed on the day when the judge had to decide on whether Fenech gets bail, casting doubts over Grixti's impartiality in the case.

On the same day, Azzopardi took to Facebook to share his two cents on the incident. In one post, he uploaded a photo of the yacht, writing "do you have no shame?" (taf tistħi). In another, he points out that Grixti was the same judge who told former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil in 2019 that the Panama Papers was all speculation. 

Grixti eventually rejected Fenech's request for bail, but Azzopardi's comments led Fenech's lawyers to write to the Chief Justice, asking to deplore what they described as the "systematic intimidation of the judiciary in such a way as to threaten due process".

In his letter, de Gabriele said that the Chamber was seriously concerned about the posts, saying that they could have impacted the tranquility needed for a judge to deliberate objectively.

He said that it is unacceptable to try and influence judicial decisions before they are taken, and that the situation is far worse given that the conditioning was done by a member of the legal profession. 

When contacted by MaltaToday, Jason Azzopardi argued that the request has no legal basis and sets an ugly precedent. "Is the Chamber now able to censor the leader of the Opposition [a lawyer] for criticising a decision taken by a magistrate?" he questioned. 

He added that the request reveals a concerted effort to silence Opposition MPs, with the "instigators" having already tried to have Azzopardi criminally arraigned in court over the ordeal. 

"I can tell you that I will not be silenced, either as a lawyer fighting against corruption and impunity or as an MP doing the same,” he added.