The authorities announced that Philip Galea Farrugia and four other lawyers will be appointed magistrates shortly. Philip Galea Farrugia is the Deputy Attorney General who prosecuted the Degiorgio brothers. When it came to trial there was only time for his opening presentation. When he finished and it was time for the jury to start hearing the evidence, the Degiorgios changed their plea to guilty and went to prison for 40 years.
Philip Galea Farrugia was expected to be the prosecutor at the trial of Yorgen Fenech. He argued for the people in the protracted pre-trial stages and would have been preparing for the trial if he didn’t just get the job.
He applied for the job. It wasn’t thrust on him. Magistrates no longer find they’ve been hired on the whim of the prime minister. They need to apply for the job and go through a selection process. So, Philip Galea Farrugia wanted to leave the prosecutor’s office.
In the professional world there are things called constructive dismissals. Someone may not be fired out of a job, but their life is made uncomfortable enough for them to want to leave. This may have happened in Galea Farrugia’s case. He was passed over for the job of Attorney General when Victoria Buttigieg, without a day of experience in criminal law, was given the job. And since then, Victoria Buttigieg has shown little merit to justify her position.
As a magistrate Philip Galea Farrugia will be relieved of the politics of government. He will no longer be frustrated by appointments made against the public interest and in the interest of people in politics or near it whose life would be harder if the position of Attorney General was filled by someone competent.
We have gained a competent magistrate, but the people have lost their lawyer in court. The Attorney General’s office is thinner than ever. We are going in a court room to face the significant financial resources of Yorgen Fenech with untested prosecutors led by an Attorney General without a history of trial work.
Philip Galea Farrugia has every right to carve a path for himself and his career. We know we must respect that. But our right as law abiding citizens to be adequately represented in the prosecution of major crimes has just been nibbled some more.