The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Attorney General appeals ruling on recusal of judge from Panama Papers case

Thursday, 26 July 2018, 13:24 Last update: about 13 months ago

Attorney General Peter Grech has appealed the constitutional ruling for the recusal of Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi from the appeal case involving the Panama Papers inquiry.

On 12 July, a constitutional court upheld a request by former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil for Mizzi to recuse himself from the inquiry due to a possible conflict of interest given that his wife is Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi, who also expressed her views on the Panama Papers scandal.

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In a post on social media, Busuttil said that the AG’s appeal meant that “together with the PM and others, the AG wants the husband of a Labour MP to decide on whether an investigation should begin. It is incredible but true.”

“This also means that they are going to continue all they can so justice does not take place. The obstacles they are trying to create are not only blatant, they are dangerous.”

“I called this inquiry so Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi can be investigated after they were found with secret companies in Panama. I made this request because no one had done anything over the years. I had no choice but to request it or leave justice to be buried.”

Mizzi had been due to hear appeals filed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Schembri and Mizzi, together with businessmen Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Malcolm Scerri and Adrian Hillman against a magistrate’s decision to green light an inquiry in their regard.

After Mizzi refused to step aside, Busuttil had filed a separate constitutional case claiming a violation of his right to a fair hearing and requesting that the appeals be assigned to a different member of the judiciary.

After hearing the arguments of both parties Mr Justice Joseph Zammit Mackeon ruled that “it a manner most crystal clear Mr Justice Mizzi should be moved aside, even if only in the best interest of the administration of justice, all semblance of doubt about every decision and provision he would make.”

The first hall of the civil court in its constitutional jurisdiction upheld Busuttil’s requests and ordered that the case is assigned to another judge. 

 

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