The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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Repubblika condemns Abela’s 'attempt to intimidate' magistrate over Fearne case

Thursday, 11 July 2024, 10:53 Last update: about 1 day ago

NGO Repubblika on Thursday said that Prime Minister Robert Abela’s words about the possible re-nomination of former Deputy PM Chris Fearne as Malta’s EU Commissioner are “an attempt to intimidate” the Magistrate who must make that decision.

On Wednesday, Abela told journalists that “it’s one of the most probable possibilities,” that Fearne might still get the nod to become Malta’s European Commissioner if the court hearing his Vitals case finds there not enough prima facie evidence to indict him. The PN also said that Abela’s words were unacceptable and created pressure on the Magistrate.

In a statement, Repubblika said that this is “nothing but a message to the magistrate that if Fearne is not sent to become Commissioner, the Prime Minister will blame the magistrate.”

“No court decision should be conditioned by the political needs of the government. The law is the same for everyone, even for candidates for the European Commission,” the NGO said.

It said that normally, no Prime Minister makes public comments expressing the hope that persons accused by the prosecutor, or the police will “get off lightly.” Repubblika continued that this dangerous exception has been made for Fearne.

“A month ago, Abela intimidated the inquiring magistrate in the Vitals case because he needed to do so due to the election. Now he is intimidating another magistrate who is hearing the compilation of evidence because Abela needs to do so, otherwise, he does not know who he will send as European Commissioner,” Repubblika said.

Repubblika said that this is “a repeated breach against the independence of the judiciary, interference, and intimidation of the government over the magistrates.”

It said that it also observe how much the standard of quality for the selection of European Commissioners has dropped.

“We have reached the extreme where you can be criminally investigated, accused of serious crimes by the prosecution, found politically responsible for the biggest corruption scandal in the country's history, found responsible by a public inquiry for allowing the corrupt to enjoy impunity to the point that a journalist was killed, but all this does not prevent you from being nominated for one of the most important positions in European governance,” Repubblika said.

Repubblika said that a European Commissioner should have loyalty to truth and good governance that is proven much better than simply not falling under an indictment for corruption, illicit enrichment, and misappropriation.

“Our country should choose the best person for the positions it needs to fill, not the person who is most politically convenient for the Prime Minister,” Repubblika said.

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