Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi has today refused Repubblika’s request for him to recuse himself from hearing the appeal in the case filed by the civil rights NGO on judicial appointments.

The request was made in a setting last Monday when lawyers for Repubblika Jason Azzopardi and Simon Busuttil argued that the Chief Justice was conflicted in hearing this case because he has himself acted to implement the government decisions on judicial appointments that Repubblika filed the lawsuit over.

The Court of Appeal is hearing appeals filed by Repubblika and by the Attorney General from preliminary decisions taken by a lower court over the case.

The Chief Justice together with Judges Giannino Caruana Demajo and Noel Cuschieri recalled in today’s decision that Repubblika’s complaint focused on the Prime Minister’s excessive discretion when appointing judges and magistrates. The judges pointed out that the fact that the Chief Justice presides the committee that recommends lawyers for an appointment does not mean the Chief Justice is actually involved in their appointment as that remains in the discretion of the Prime Minister.

The Judges today also refuted the argument that the fact that the Chief Justice assigns duties to Judges and Magistrates in any way has an influence on their appointment.

The Judges, therefore, refused Repubblika’s request for the Chief Justice to recuse himself from hearing Repubblika’s appeal.

The appeal will continue to be heard later this month by the same judges.