Biased MPs should be debarred from voting on impeachment motion

University dean of laws Kevin Aquilina argues that judge Lino Farrugia Sacco has been denied his right for a fair trial.

Lino Farrugia Sacco
Lino Farrugia Sacco

MPs who have publicly expressed an opinion in favour or against Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco's impeachment should be barred from casting their vote in the impeachment motion, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Malta said.

In an article published in today's edition of MaltaToday, Kevin Aquilina argues that Farrugia Sacco has been denied his right for a fair trial since the Commission for the Administration of Justice has resubmitted the original report it had compiled for the first impeachment motion presented by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

Calling for a third report, Aquilina said that a member of the Commission for the Administration of Justice should make the case in parliament and the Judge and his legal team should be given the opportunity to put their case to MPs.

"The Speaker should also ensure that the discussion on this removal motion is kept serene, that biased Member of Parliament are debarred from taking part in the removal procedure, including in voting, that the House should act more like a court of law than a political assembly and that the end result of the debate should be that of arriving to the truth."

This afternoon, the House Business Committee is set to meet to discuss how the impeachment process will continue in parliament after the original motion was declared null by the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia.

Since then, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat filed a new motion, and the Commission informed parliament that its investigation into the judge remains valid.

"But if the original motion is no longer valid, how can the original report still continue to be valid?" Aquilina said.

On Monday, Farrugia Sacco filed a judicial protest against the prime minister, the Attorney General and the Commission for the Administration of Justice.

Farrugia Sacco is claiming that he was neither notified nor given the opportunity to make his own case in what should have been a second investigation by the Commission for the Administration of Justice.

The judge is also claiming that since the original motion was declared to be invalid by the Speaker, it follows that the decision on that motion be also considered null.

In a decision of 6 January 2014, the Commission for the Administration of Justice ruled that Farrugia Sacco had compromised his position by retaining the post of president of the Malta Olympic Committee in breach of the judiciary's code of ethics.

It found Gonzi's request for an impeachment had been proven, after Farrugia Sacco entertained a discussion on the resale of the MOC's tickets to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with two undercover Sunday Times of London reporters posing as ticket agents.

In his biting article, Aquilina said that before compiling a second report, the Commission members should have been changed "because of prejudice so that the new triers are not tainted with bias."

He also argued that the Judge should have been given an opportunity to present his case to the new Commission members.

Sorry, I do not agree! This is wrong, as we are all biased to some extent, even unintentionally. No, all parliamentarians should be allowed their vote, whether in favour, against or abstention.
Raymond DeBattista
It seems the Nationalist Party is continuing the witch hunt against this Hon. Judge... I fully agree with the views of Kevin Aquilina. Isn't it enough the practically all our institutions are rediculing themselves day in day out?
I had already made a comment that the Judge was not given the right to a fair hearing because the Commission had not heard his views on the principles of natural justice audi alteram partem, but it seems to have got lost on the way. The PN are acting like Shylock and simply want the pound of flesh because his son is a Labour Candidate.