Repubblika has been asking Magistrate Nadine Lia for months to call a sitting of the case it brought against the chief of police for not implementing the conclusions of the Pilatus Bank inquiry. She refused, repeatedly, with the same haughtiness with which she refused any and all arguments we brought to persuade her that her close relationship with Joseph Muscat’s lawyer means she cannot be seen to be deciding this case with anything like impartiality.
But two days ago, she called a session for today and there we went hoping that perhaps she was finally seeing sense and rather than sticking to the ongoing filibuster she passes the file to a magistrate who isn’t married to a law office partner with Pawlu Lia.
She called us for 9:35 am. In the time frame between 9am and 10:30am she called 19 other cases which made her courtroom look like a sweaty, and noisy, bazaar.
At length, around an hour after we were due to be heard, the magistrate called our case and proceeded to read from a prepared script informing the parties to the case – Repubblika and the police commissioner – that she had received an anonymous letter that referred to the proceedings. The proceedings, because that’s what they’re called even when there’s nothing proceeding at all, will continue on the appointed date on the 27th of October.
Our lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, asked to record our reaction. The term is ‘jivverbalizza’, corrupted Italian for using one’s voice to dictate a statement to the records of the case.
Magistrate Nadine Lia would have none of it. She said she was ‘done’ – “jiena lesta” – and stormed out of the court room refusing to hear our reaction or to allow us to record it. I suppose one could say that if she had thrown us out before we could speak she would have been abusing her authority. Instead, she walked out of her courtroom herself.
Never mind the fact that this is unfair. It’s childish. It is also worrying that the magistrate seems unable or unwilling to hear anything that might displease her. It is behaviour well short of what is reasonably expected from someone presiding a court, even someone whose objectivity is in grave doubt.
We walked out of court and our lawyer immediately filed a written note saying what he meant to say if the magistrate stayed long enough to listen to him.
We condemn anonymous letters. We know what anonymous letters feel like because we receive them as a matter of course. We are sorry for what the magistrate must have felt reading it.
We resent and reject any implication in the magistrate’s decision to call today’s session that we had anything to do with the anonymous letter.
And we still think the case should be heard urgently and not by Magistrate Lia because we still think she is conflicted and unable, let alone appear, to be impartial in this case.
They say you wouldn’t want the public to see how sausages and laws are made. Today they’d have been unimpressed with the making of justice.