The Malta Independent 28 January 2023, Saturday
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Pilatus Bank official's bid to intervene in Repubblika nolle prosequi case dismissed by judge

Friday, 25 November 2022, 14:40 Last update: about 3 months ago
Photo: Mike Camilleri
Photo: Mike Camilleri

A judge has refused a request by Pilatus Bank's former risk manager, Antoniella Gauci, to be included as a party to Repubblika's case against the Attorney General, over the failure to prosecute senior officials at the now shuttered bank.

In the case, heard by Mr. Justice Christian Falzon Scerri, Repubblika has alleged that last year Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg had issued a nolle prosequi, (an order not to prosecute) a mere 4 months after the public prosecutor received a 600,000-page report relating to the inquiry into the bank, which recommended prosecuting a number of officials at the now-shuttered bank, one of them being Gauci.

On Thursday, Gauci's lawyer Roberto Montalto filed an application before the First Hall of the Civil Court, asking that Gauci be admitted as a party to the proceedings.

But in a decree handed down on Friday, the judge ruled that the law did not grant the right to intervene in these proceedings to a person in Gauci's position.

"This is not without reason," said the judge. The police and Attorney General were not legally obliged to obtain permission from the subject of an investigation before prosecuting. 

The right to initiate criminal proceedings was one entrusted to the police and the Attorney General and not the person under investigation, said the judge. 

It follows that such a person had no right to stop the police or the Attorney General from doing so, nor to choose what charges would be issued, the court went on.

"The rights which a person under investigation have are: if charged with a crime, to know what they are being accused of, to be aware of the evidence against them and to have the opportunity and legal assistance to defend themselves from the accusations.

Gauci was still presumed innocent at this stage and therefore had no legal right to interfere in the Attorney General's decision on whether to prosecute or not.

"This same principle also applies when an injured party, as Repubblika is claiming to be, is not in agreement with the Attorney General's decision not to prosecute someone and request that such a decision be examined by the courts."

This was a right granted by law intended to provide the injured party with the peace of mind that the Attorney General did , in fact, use its discretion in a fitting manner and not abusively, negligently or superficially.

The remedy of judicial review of such decisions allows the court to investigate whether the discretion exercised by the Attorney General had been exercised in a legal and reasonable manner.

Only two parties exist in such a case: the injured party and the Attorney General said the judge. "As repeated earlier, Antoniella Jane Gauci does not feature in the discussion about whether or not to prosecute her. She has no right to interfere with the Attorney General about whether to prosecute or not, and neither does she have the right to interfere in the action filed by Repubblika."

 


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