Bernard Grech has asked the police commissioner to protect a magistrate who has been targeted for criticism by Robert Abela, Joseph Muscat and Labour media.   

Grech said he wants Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa to protect Magistrate Gabriella Vella, who led an inquiry into the Muscat-era deal to hand three state hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare. 

“The magistrate is being attacked not only by the prime minister and others in Labour but also by Labour Party media - they published a photo of her, and that is dangerous,” Grech told journalists on Tuesday evening.  

“We are in an unprecedented situation, the judiciary is under threat and that is unacceptable,” Grech said.  “It is very dangerous that the prime minister does not understand that he cannot attack the judiciary but has an obligation to protect it”.  

The Opposition leader said he had asked Gafa, in a letter, to protect "all Nationalist Party members, but especially the judiciary and in particular" Magistrate Vella.  

Magistrate Vella concluded the inquiry last week, a court heard on Tuesday. Although its contents remain secret, Muscat has said that he has "no doubt" he will end up facing criminal charges as result of it, saying the probe is a "political vendetta". 

Prime Minister Robert Abela has also hit out repeatedly at the magistrate for concluding her inquiry weeks before MEP and local council elections in June. 

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Speaking on Tuesday, Abela said he did not believe the timing of the inquiry was coincidental. 

“In my opinion, it was a message,” he said. 

Abela sought to frame the inquiry as a political issue, saying people would decide on June 8 if they wanted to grant power to the "establishment" he claimed portions of the judiciary belong to. 

He also argued that there was nothing wrong with him singling out a magistrate for public criticism, saying that was part of the "checks and balances" role he had to fulfil as prime minister. 

Privately, Labour Party insiders say the party is worried about a lack of enthusiasm among core voters and fear that weak turnout will cost them their fourth MEP seat come June 8. 

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