The judiciary’s watchdog has made its decision on whether Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco should be impeached by Parliament for misbehaviour, Times of Malta is informed.

The decision by the Commission for the Administration of Justice was not disclosed and is yet to be communicated to the Speaker of the House.

Sources close to the Office of the President, who coordinates the commission’s meetings, said the decision was taken at a meeting yesterday morning.

The vote was due to be held last week, during the commission’s last meeting of 2013.

However, due to a complaint being presented by the government over a Christmas party that Magistrate Carol Peralta threw in his courtroom, the vote was postponed to the following meeting.

The last step is a vote on whether to recommend impeachment

According to the Constitution, a member of the judiciary can only be removed after a parliamentary motion is backed by two thirds of MPs.

When an impeachment motion is presented, it has to first be discussed by the commission to decide whether there is a prima facie case of misbehaviour.

If it agrees, the motion can proceed to be decided in Parliament, otherwise the motion will fall.

The commission has been discussing the motion of impeachment presented against Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco for more than a year.

The lengthy process has been criticised by many observers, including members of the legal profession, the executive and a commission set up by the government to reform the judicial system, leading to calls for a better and more efficient watchdog.

The motion to remove Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco from the Bench was presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives in December 2012 after the judge, then president of the Malta Olympic Committee, and another official were rapped by the International Olympic Committee following a ticket sales investigation.

He had already received warnings, including publicly from the commission, over his dual role as MOC president and a member of the Bench, which was deemed to contravene the judiciary’s code of ethics.

Despite being told in 2005 to resign from the MOC, the judge stayed in the post until March 2013 when he did not stand for re-election.

Former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had presented the motion in Parliament only after the judge refused his call to “do the honourable thing” and resign to defend himself against the IOC findings without tarnishing the judiciary’s reputation.

Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco had accused Dr Gonzi of “trying to be funny”.

Despite the impeachment process, Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco continued to hear cases and Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri refused calls to relieve the judge of his official duties until the case is decided.

Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco is due to retire from the Bench in August when he reaches 65.

If he is impeached, he will lose his pension entitlement. However, he may still choose to resign before the final decision is taken by Parliament.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is on record saying he will follow the recommendations of the Commission. The Opposition is in favour of impeaching the judge for his alleged misbehaviour.

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