The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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Muscat says magistrate refuses to recuse herself, says he ‘lost almost all trust’ in process

Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 15:51 Last update: about 13 months ago

Magistrate Gabriella Vella has decided not to accept former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s request to recuse herself from the magisterial inquiry into the hospitals deal.

In a post on Facebook, Muscat said that he will take the necessary steps to ensure that the process, “in which I have lost almost all trust”, does not end up as a political theatre.

Vella is leading the inquiry into the concession which saw three hospitals sold first to Vitals Global Healthcare and then to Steward Health Care. A court in February ruled that the deal was "fraudulent" and ordered the return of the hospitals under the government's wing.


“I have been informed that Magistrate Gabriella Vella unilaterally decided against the request to recuse herself from continuing presiding over the inquiry on the hospitals concessions,” Muscat wrote on Tuesday.

“She did so without a hearing since, according to her, the open support by her family members towards those requesting the inquiry and their expressed view on the matters being investigated, do not hamper her impartiality," Muscat said.

"Unfortunately, this goes against international jurisprudence and the principles aimed at establishing ethical standards amongst the members of the judiciary," the former Prime Minister contended.

"The magistrate has been for more than a year ignoring my numerous requests to testify in the case. She has only now considered these requests after the situation escalated in an unacceptable manner.

"To be clear, I asked Magistrate Vella to relinquish her role because of continuous leaks from the inquiry, the way she ignored my requests to testify, and the opinions expressed by her father and brother on the matter being investigated, which surely have an effect on the way in which the administration of justice is perceived. On issues much less serious than this, members of the judiciary have recused themselves or have been recused.

"I will take all the necessary steps to ensure that the process, in which I have lost almost all trust, does not end up a political theatre as some intend it to be, but rather a process according to the rule of law."

In his request last week, Muscat said that he wants the inquiry “to pass to another member of the Judiciary who can secure impartiality, both as perception and a matter of fact, in this case which has now turned political.”

Muscat filed the legal request in court a day after a joint investigation revealed the role of a former Vitals Global Healthcare company in Switzerland, to receive payments from concessionaires Steward, and to pay out consultancy fees to Muscat after he resigned in the 2019 political crisis.  Muscat denies


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