Carol Peralta: the story of a defiant magistrate

Following the latest controversy surrounding Magistrate Carol Peralta, MaltaToday looks at his eventful career.

Christmas drinks have never sparked a bigger controversy than those organised by Carol Peralta, allegedly on "a Lm60 budget", on Thursday afternoon.

Indeed, the venue for this Christmas gathering was none other than the Magistrate's own courtroom.

Unrepentant of his actions, Peralta refused to apologise when pressed by journalists over whether he had felt ashamed of his actions. Instead, he sat back in his leather sofa, lit a cigarette and continued answering questions the journalists put forward.

During this Friday press conference held at his Mdina residence, Peralta also refused to have any photographs taken.

The boisterous and flamboyant magistrate is not new to controversy. Having already faced two impeachment motions - both of which fell through - Peralta may be on his third, depending on what the Commission for the Administration of Justice finds out.

Controversies surrounding the 61-year-old magistrate vary, from his alleged links with the freemasonry to his Mdina residence, which included illegal development and was later sanctioned.

Peralta made headlines when he illegally built and demolished a medieval wall in an old Mdina property. The property, situated at the archaeologically rich Mesquita Square, was later sanctioned by MEPA despite heritage experts' advice to stop the project.

In 2002, documentation made available to MaltaToday also confirmed that Peralta was the most senior freemason at the Leinster lodge No 387 LC at Villa Blye in Paola before being sworn in as magistrate in 1990.

Peralta's name had appeared on a letter the Masonic brothers sent three days later after his appointment.

The story was originally broken by Alternattiva - the defunct newspaper published by Alternattiva Demokratika - in 1990. A year later, in 1991, Peralta had converted a Lm5 fine to a day at Corradino Prisons when he was handing down his judgment against Saviour Balzan - then AD activist and Alternattiva coordinator - and two other AD activists, Joe Azzopardi and Mark Borg.

The three were sentenced to a day in prison when they protested in Gozo, blocking a car carrying Richard Cachia Caruana from entering Ta' Cenc Hotel. The group of protesters totalled 22, but only three were sent to prison. The rest were fined.

The lodge which Magistrate Carol Peralta had led as Worshipful Master for the year 1989-90 included some very well known businessmen and lawyers.

It is not known whether Peralta is still a freemason. However, while he refused to answer questions related to his involvement in freemasonry, on Friday he told MaltaToday there was "no conflict" between freemasonry and the judiciary.

Two impeachment motions to remove Magistrate Peralta out of office in the past fell through.

The first one was proposed by former MP Wenzu Mintoff in 1990, asking for the removal from office of Peralta as well as another magistrate on grounds of misbehaviour. Peralta was then magistrate at the Gozo Court and was essential in granting ownership rights overnight to a dubious land title owner of the Sant' Antnin Battery in Qala, who could then sell it to his fellow magistrate.

The impeachment motion however fell through, as there was still no legal procedure to investigate magistrates.

In December 1994, then prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami presented another impeachment motion against Magistrate Peralta. At that time the newly established Commission for the Administration of Justice had refused Fenech Adami's motion, saying there were no grounds for the impeachment motion to be debated in parliament. In fact, the reasons behind the motion were never made public officially although they are known to revolve around an alleged abusive relationship with an Asian woman.

Peralta returned to service in the Maltese courts in 2012 after having served eight years in tribunals in former Yugoslavia.

Before leaving to serve as an international judge, Peralta had left 283 pending magisterial inquiries.

In 2003 he was assigned to the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo and served as an international judge with jurisdiction over war crimes and organised crime.

He was also appointed Presiding Judge of the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, dealing with privatisation matters. Ten months later, he was elevated to the position of Chief International Judge of Kosovo with overall responsibility for managing the international justice programme in the country.

In this capacity, he also presided over trials involving war crimes and international terrorism.

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I wonder whether those present for the party were members of the same free masons lodge
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wahda mir-regoli tal-mazunerija hi li l-gudikanti jistghu jiwwejvjaw il-gurament tad-dmirijiet ta' l-istat taghhom favur l-akkuzat, f'dan il-kas il-Magistrat Peralta. Jistghu jekk jghogobhom is-sinjuri gudikanti tal-kummissjoni li se tiggudikah jghidu jekk humiex fil-mazunerija jew le biex ma jkollhomx konflitt ta' interess f'dan il-kas?
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Well magistrate Peralta, as the saying goes "third time is a charm" and this might be your last hurrah. This man broke the rules when he held a party serving hard liquor and allowed smoking in his court room. This is a very arrogant and very controversial magistrate and he thinks he is above the the law because he is the law. Nobody but nobody is above the law except a dictatorship which ignores the law altogether. This man had the audacity to insult the people of Mellieha by his derogatory remarks he made from the bench and as usual, he is so arrogant that he never apologized publicly or otherwise for his despicable remarks. I do hope that this time the Parliament finds a way to take this man's chip of his shoulders and remind him that he too puts on his pants one leg at a time like the rest of us. The man is arrogant and he believes he is above the law. By the way if there were Police and Lawyers present at that party, doesn't that create some kind of a conflict, him being a Magistrate and all?
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Well Magistrate Peralta, as the saying goes "third time is a charm" and this might be your last hurrah. This man broke the rules when he held a party serving hard liquor and allowed smoking in his court room. This is a very arrogant and a very controversial public servant and he thinks he is above the the law because he is the law. Nobody but nobody is above the law except a dictatorship which ignores the law altogether. This man had the audacity to insult the people of Mellieha by his derogatory remarks he made from the bench and as usual, he is so arrogant that he never apologized publicly or otherwise for his despicable remarks. I do hope that this time the Parliament finds a way to skip the politics and remind him that he too puts on his pants one leg at a time like the rest of us. The man is arrogant and he believes he is above the lawm which he is not..

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