Advocates shot the messenger

Advocates shot the messenger

I can understand the Chamber of Advocates’ stern reservations on Simon Busuttil’s request that Judge Antonio Mizzi should not be hearing Joseph Muscat’s appeal against a lower court’s decision to order an investigation into the Panama Papers.

But I can understand Simon Busuttil as well. To coin a phrase, justice must be seen to be done and what is being seen in place of justice is the prime minister once more dodging the bullet of investigations into his affairs by manipulating the institutions in his favour.

Joseph Muscat has already ensured the police and the attorney general do nothing about his own links with the Panama findings and the links of people close to him. The chief investigator in the police force is the spouse of one his Ministers. These marital arrangements have stopped looking coincidental some time ago now.

So when Joseph Muscat waited for the spouse of Marlene Mizzi, one of his more virulent MEPs, to get his turn as duty judge to receive appeals, anyone seeking fair and proper justice could not have seriously been expected to stand aside to applaud this cynical juggling act.

True, Busuttil has a vital personal stake in the outcome of this saga. He wants to be vindicated and judging by all we know so far he certainly deserves to be. But this is not his cause alone. Anyone on the side of truth and justice cannot leave Busuttil alone in this fight, particularly the Chamber of Advocates.

There is a clear risk that as Simon Busuttil is perceived as a lame duck, the issues he campaigned on, right or wrong, are dropped as damaged goods. Simon Busuttil is indeed politically a lame duck. He’s on his way out. But the causes he fought on are as clear and present as they have ever been and an effort of national resistance must be mobilised all over again to dispute this grand matter of our time.

For all I know Antonio Mizzi is a latter day Solomon and he is utterly indifferent to his wife’s political loyalties. Be that as it may, the Advocates should consider that irrespective of Simon Busuttil’s comments and requests as things stand we have a risk of miscarriage of justice even before an outcome is known.

For who is to be blamed for suspecting a cover-up and collusion with the judiciary if Joseph Muscat’s appeal is entertained?

The first court ordered an investigation into Joseph Muscat and his merry men’s alleged wrongdoing. Instead of welcoming the opportunity to clear their names, Joseph Muscat and company sought to have that order reversed.

They made doubly sure that not just any judge is asked to have the order reversed but one they expected would favour them because of his wife’s political affiliation.

Once again it is Joseph Muscat who is putting undue pressure on the judiciary, as he did a few weeks back when he threatened an inquiring magistrate of ‘consequences’ should he turn up with the wrong findings.

It is not Simon Busuttil the Advocates should be criticising for putting pressure on Antonio Mizzi. It is Joseph Muscat who has put pressure on Antonio Mizzi by forcing on him a choice between the facts of the case and Joseph Muscat’s interests, conflated as they are being now with the supposed interests of the Labour Party.

The pressure is even more explicit when one considers that this charade has exposed the entire process of judicial review to disrepute. That is where Joseph Muscat wants it to be. He needs the credibility of the courts to be diminished to allow him to push back on and survive any decision taken against him.

He needs Antonio Mizzi – and the entire court system – to be perceived as subject to pressure so that he can use that perception to neutralise the effect of any decision against him.

And he needs Antonio Mizzi – and the entire court system – to feel they are perceived as subject to pressure in order to condition the outcome of their decision.

If the conditioning works and Joseph Muscat’s appeal is accepted and the investigation order is reversed, Muscat wins. If the conditioning does not work and the investigation order is confirmed, the decision is attributed to political pressure from Busuttil and, politically and momentarily at least, Muscat still wins.

I can understand the Chamber of Advocates wanting to protect the credibility of the justice system from being tarnished by political pressure. They just need to look deeper at the source of that pressure and attack that source, rather than those who are pointing it out to the rest of us.

  • Natalia Menshova

    Sorry to burst your bubble – but it is NOT THAT “we have a risk of miscarriage of justice” here, in Malta. The Maltese Court – Judiciary, lawyers, Commission of Justice members, etc., ….. ARE HORRIBLY CORRUPT! The entire court system ALREADY RUINED. It is already “perceived as subject to pressure in order to condition the outcome of their decision”. I am personally in Court from year 2012 – – and have definite proof of what I am saying. Good that the TRUTH about that fact is going out for public exposure. Bravo Dr.Simon Busuttil – just for that horrible deceit, which is called “Maltese Court of UNjuctice” to be exposed – he must be praised! As who would pay attention nowadays in Malta on common person suffering at Maltese Court of Unjustice… But Dr.Busuttil has a name to be seen to. And btw – “Chamber of Advocates’-bla-nla-bla is, in reality, just PRESSED to express the “right opinion” Dr.Hyzler……, its chairman.

  • J. Borg

    Antonio Mizzi should have been the first to declare that he had a conflict of interest and to recuse himself … and it is obvious why.

    Marlene Mizzi, his wife, sits in the European Parliament with the blessing of Joseph Muscat. She clearly owes him for this. It is also clear that, if she (or any other candidate on the party ticket) is not supported by her party, she will not be re-elected.

    This puts pressure on the judge in question, for if he should judge in favour of Muscat et al., then regardless of why he does this, the opposition will have reason to say that this was because his wife’s job in Brussels is at Muscat’s mercy (which, let’s face it, it is!)… and this will taint his reputation with half the population. That can only be bad for him professionally. The flipside is that, if he were to judge against Muscat et al., then his wife could end up collateral damage, even if this were not instigated by Muscat himself — but if PL followers were to interpret this as a slight against their beloved leader.

    So he is between a rock and a hard place — and this is unfair on him. The only way out is to have another impartial judge — given that all judges are reputedly impartial — deal with the appeal. That should make no difference to the outcome of the appeal, which will be judged on its own merits, as it likely would have been under Judge Mizzi … with the difference that Judge Mizzi will not be placed in his currently unenviable situation.

    So — blame it on the opposition if you like — Judge Mizzi has good reason to recuse himself, however his judgement may have panned out in this appeal. It simply should not be him having to judge it — not because of his lack of impartiality, but because of the consequences on him and his family whatever the outcome, one way or the other.