Justice minister criticises request for gagging order in Vitals criminal case

Justice Minister calls prosecution’s request ‘disproportionate’

Justice Minister Jonathan Attard (File photo)
Justice Minister Jonathan Attard (File photo)

The prosecution’s request to impose a ‘gagging order’ in the Vitals corruption case was “disproportionate”, according to Justice Minister Jonathan Attard.

In a statement issued today, the Justice Minister expressed concerns over a recent court directive regarding public comments on a pending criminal case.

“I believe the prosecution’s request for what has been publicly described as a “gagging order”, against the accused only,  was disproportionate,” he said.

The minister said he has a duty to voice his opinion on the matter while respecting the rights of the defence and the independence of the prosecution.

He also said it was especially disproportionate in a context marked by repeated leaks and multiple judges condemning such actions.

He said that the magistrate's directive, calling for restraint in commenting on ongoing cases to ensure proper administration of justice, aligns with fundamental justice principles.

However, he reminded that these proceedings are public and accessible to all. “This case has been marred by continuous public commentary, often disregarding the presumption of innocence and constituting attacks on the accused,” he said.

He mentioned a statement by Repubblika on Wednesday morning, whereby the NGO said it was disappointed after their request to be admitted as an injured party in the case was rejected by the magistrate.

The minister said that the prosecution must also ensure that local investigators seriously address leaks that continuously undermine the justice system's integrity.