Magistrate threatened with having career, marriage destroyed: ‘Omertà si. Sfidare no.’

The Association of the Judiciary condemns anonymous threat sent to Magistrate Nadine Lia, urges authorities to safeguard the independence and security of the judiciary

Magistrate Nadine Lia received the anonymous threat at her private residence
Magistrate Nadine Lia received the anonymous threat at her private residence

Judges and magistrates are standing foursquare behind their colleague Nadine Lia after she received a letter threatening to destroy her “career and marriage”.

The Association of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice have condemned the act of intimidation against the magistrate and called on the authorities to ensure the independence and security of the judiciary are safeguarded.

In a rare statement on Thursday, the association published the contents of the anonymous letter, which Magistrate Lia received at her private residence.

The letter, in badly-written Maltese, threatened to destroy the magistrate’s career and marriage unless she stepped down. “Are you happy! Next time obey like the others do,” the letter warned, ending with a phrase that has strong mafia undertones: “Omertà si, Sfidare no.”

The association condemned the letter, insisting that acts like these are unacceptable in a democratic society that cherishes the rule of law.

The text of the anonymous letter sent to Nadine Lia’s private residence:

Ghidnilek biex twarrab.

Issa oqod tpaxxa arana inkisrulek il-karriera u zwieg. Kuntenta hekk! Darba ohra obdi kif jaghmlu l-ohrajn.

Omerta Si. Sfidare No

Lia is locked in a judicial dispute with Repubblika after she refused a request to recuse herself from hearing a case in which the rule of law NGO has instituted challenge proceedings requesting the police to prosecute Pilatus Bank officials.

Repubblika want Lia to withdraw from the case because she is married to the son of Joseph Muscat’s lawyer, Pawlu Lia. Repubblika is insisting that Muscat’s proximity to people involved with Pilatus Bank makes Lia partial to the proceedings, given her father’s link to the former prime minister.

Lia has refused to recuse herself and Repubblika filed a constitutional case on the matter.

The NGO has condemned the threatening letter sent to Lia.

In its statement on Thursday, the Association of the Judiciary said: “A member of the judiciary should be allowed to work serenely without any form of pressure or fear of reprisals on them and their families.”

The statement adds: “While the judiciary understands, and accepts criticism on its actions, this should never lead to pressure, intimidation and threats towards members of the judiciary and their families, as happened in this case.”

The judiciary expressed solidarity with Lia and urged the authorities to safeguard the independence and security of judges and magistrates.

A magisterial inquiry into the threat was initiated on Wednesday and Justice Minister Jonathan Attard expressed solidarity with the magistrate and condemned the act.