PM did not breach ethics commenting on Pelin Kaya case, standards czar rules

Robert Abela cleared of ethics breach for commenting on the judiciary after the murder of Pelin Kaya

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The Prime Minister did not breach ethics when commenting against the courts and judiciary after the murder of Pelin Kaya, the standards commissioner has ruled.

In a decision handed down earlier this week, the commissioner said that the prime minister is free to comment generally on aspects of justice and the judiciary, without prejudicing a particular case.

The commissioner was ruling on a complaint filed by L-Għaqda Studenti tal-Liġi (GħSL). The student organisation argued that the prime minister breached ethics when talking publicly about the case against Pelin Kaya’s alleged murder, citing pending judicial consideration.

The complaint also centred around comments made by the prime minister on private conversations he held with a magistrate on sentencing policies.

The commissioner said a general comment on justice and the judiciary does not constitute an ethical breach. “The separation of powers does not mean that a politician cannot comment generally about justice and, at the end of the day, reflect the public opinion on a shocking incident like [Pelin Kaya’s murder],” the report reads.

However, in a reaction to the ethics report, GħSL said it respects the commissioner’s decision but sees it as a “missed opportunity to uphold a high level of ministerial standards”.

“The report fails, in our opinion, to grasp the spirit of the Code of Ethics, which is to ensure that Ministers respect the institutions,” the organisation said.

GħSL agreed that ministers and parliamentary secretaries may comment on events of public interest, but a balance must be struck between such events and criminal proceedings.

“GħSL believes that comments made by Ministers urging the Courts not to grant bail or encouraging jurors to be harsh with the accused, as recognised by the Commissioner, violate fundamental human rights and do not meet the expected standards of ethics for persons in public life.”

“In view that this complaint was not a stand alone and part of a series of events, GħSL appeals to persons in public life to maintain high standards in their discourse on judicial processes and towards members of the judiciary.”