[WATCH] Updated | Adrian Delia: Tampering of evidence creating doubts on the justice system

Adrian Delia said that three cases of tampering of evidence over a ten-day period meant the courts were no longer able to ensure the administration of justice

Adrian Delia asked who would be shouldering political responsibility over three cases in which it was reported that court evidence had been tampered with
Adrian Delia asked who would be shouldering political responsibility over three cases in which it was reported that court evidence had been tampered with

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has called in question the courts’ ability to administer justice effectively, given what he said was a third instance of tampering of evidence reported in the media.

Delia said that in the last ten days, the nation had been informed about the tampering of evidence from the media, rather than official channels.

He said that following two instances, where drugs went missing from the courts’ strong room, a report today claimed that two court marshals had been charged with stealing the acts of a compilation of evidence related to a drug case.

“The courts are the place people go to and expect justice from,” he said, adding that the courts were meant to be “blind” when handing down sentences rather to people stealing things.

In light of what Delia described as a failure of Malta’s institutions, he said that the courts were the last bastion of Maltese justice. “We hope that when all else fails at leas the courts can still administer justice.”

Referring to the three cases in question, Delia questioned why it was that there had been no official communication on the part of the authorities.

Moreover, he said that while the government had said that an inquiry had been launched, this could only determine who’s was responsible from an administrative point of view.

“Why have the authorities remained silent, why did the government feel it needed to keep everything hidden? Who is going to carry political responsibility?”

He said that while Justice minister Owen Bonnici had spoken about the improvement in the courts’ efficiency in recent weeks, the fact remained that cases were still taking long. He added that the recent appointments to the judiciary would not improve the situation.

Like other ‘western democracies’, he said, Malta’s justice system depended on evidence, and the fact that evidence was being tampered with meant that people were forced to doubt whether it could administer justice.

“How can we rest assured that other proceedings are being safeguarded?” asked Delia

Replying to journalist's questions on the judgment handed down this on Thursday morning in libel proceedings instituted by Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Delia pointed out that the government had taken no action when it was alleged that Foreign minister Carmelo Abela.

He said that Bezzina was not a minister, nor a parliamentary secretary at the time. In this case, he said, it had not been determined that Bezzina had done anything wrong, and that in fact, a departmental investigation had confirmed this.

Government reaction

In a reaction to the press conference, the Justice ministry said that Delia’s accusations were based on inaccuracies and distortions of reality.

The ministry said that Delia had alleged that there was interference in the compilation of evidence for a drug trafficking case this week, when it the alleged tampering had been alleged over a year ago.

“All the leader of the Opposition had to do was read the press release issued by the government on that day (DOI – PR171105),” the ministry said.

It said the statement had clearly stated that two court marshals were being investigated by duty magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, after their actions had come to light.

The ministry added that they had been caught on camera and that the police and the duty magistrate were informed of the incident. Both marshals were suspended “according to the law”, it said.

“The government will not be commenting further, in light of the fact that the two court employees were formally accused of having committed a criminal offence, in order for judicial proceedings to be conducted with serenity and respect towards the rights of the accused.”

On the two instances in which it was alleged that evidence had been misplaced, the ministry said that the government would be commenting on the cases once magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech’s inquiry has been completed.

“Contrary to what was said by Dr Delia, this inquiry is not an administrative one but a magisterial inquiry.”

Moreover, the ministry said that reforms in the justice sector had been praised by international entities like the European Commission and GRECO, adding that government would continue with reforms in order to obtain better results.