Judge filed criminal complaint against Jason Azzopardi over Facebook posts

Judge Giovanni Grixti's complaint against Jason Azzopardi dismissed by police and AG since no criminal element subsisted

Judge Giovanni Grixti (left) and PN MP Jason Azzopardi (right)
Judge Giovanni Grixti (left) and PN MP Jason Azzopardi (right)

A sitting judge filed a criminal complaint againt lawyer and Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi over comments published to Facebook on the day he was expected to deliberate on a bail request from Yorgen Fenech.

Judge Giovanni Grixti filed the criminal complaint after he was outed as to having bought a boat from the father of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech back in 2008, when he was already a judge.

On the same day he was outed, Grixti was expected to deliberate on bail for Yorgen Fenech himself.

Grixti filed the complaint, but the Police Commissioner and Attorney General dismissed the report as no criminal element subsisted.

News of the boat purchase cast doubts on Grixti's impartiality in the case, and Azzopardi promptly took to Facebook to share his two cents on the incident. He uploaded a photo of the yacht, writing "do you have no shame?" (taf tistħi), and went on to point out that Grixti had told former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil in 2019 that the Panama Papers was all speculation. 

Despite impartiality concerns, Grixti eventually rejected Fenech's request for bail. However, 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".

A month after the incident took place, the Chamber of Advocates wrote to the Commission for the Administration of Justice, the highest judicial disciplinary body, requesting that it look into Azzopardi's comments.

It suggested that Azzopardi tried to influence the judge's decision before it had been taken, arguing that the posts could have impacted the tranquility needed for a judge to deliberate objectively.

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

In reaction to the Chamber's request, lawyer and Nationalist MP Joseph Ellis expressed solidarity with Azzopardi and added that the request left him perplexed.

"A judge who loses his composure due to a post or allegation made by any person, even a lawyer, is not worthy to keep his seat on the bench of the judiciary, especially if the allegation is not true," he said.