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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

The artful dodger

Joseph Muscat knows that things are not looking too good for him.

The media has outed him. The court has outed him. He now knows that the coup de grâce is close. He now knows what the magistrate who is looking into his involvement in the Vitals deal knows.

And he knows what happens next.

So he’s drumming up support from his fan base by playing the victim. He’s accusing the inquiring magistrate of denying him justice, as she doesn’t want to recuse herself from conducting the inquiry.

Recusal generally happens where the magistrate or judge has a financial interest in the case’s outcome or where there is otherwise a strong possibility that the judge’s decision will be biased, and therefore, justice will not be done, or seen to be done.

There can be no better example of a clear-cut case in which the magistrate should recuse herself than that of Magistrate Lia in the case bought before the Courts by Repubblika. Her father-in-law has a direct or indirect material interest in the case, making her a potential beneficiary. Magistrate Lia also publicly endorsed the Labour party led by Joseph Muscat during an election campaign trail. Her refusal to recuse herself is the perfect example on how to ensure that justice is not done or not seen to be done.

On Facebook, Joseph Muscat complained that Magistrate Gabriella Vella has refused to recuse herself from the magisterial inquiry into the hospitals deal “unilaterally”.

Recusals are not bilateral decisions, they are decisions taken by the bench alone based on the reasons and arguments bought before it.

Nor does Magistrate Vella have any reason to recuse herself. She has no financial or material interest in the outcome of the case, nor has she expressed any sort of bias at any time. What her father and brother did is their business, it does not translate into a lack of impartiality on her part.

Of course, Muscat knows this, but is playing the underdog, to drum up support from his fan base which is strong, but does not include the Labour Party itself, which is trying to distance itself from Muscat before the whole affair implodes.

Muscat is a slipper eel, an artful dodger, but justice is beginning to catch up with him.

It’s a question of time.


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