A judge has been appointed to lead an inquiry into lawyer Charles Merceica's move from the Attorney General's office to the defence team of the man accused of masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Azzopardi will head a board to look into Merceica's controversial decision revealed by Times of Malta last week

The government said on Tuesday the board of inquiry has to present its findings to the minister by June 16. The justice ministry has previously described the lawyer's decision to join the team defending Yorgen Fenech as 'insensitive'.

It had said that following thorough verifications conducted with the Office of the Attorney General, the ministry was informed that Mercieca never worked directly or indirectly on the proceedings related to the Caruana Galizia assassination nor on any proceedings connected to Yorgen Fenech.

The switch was also slammed by Council of Europe rapporteur and Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt who warned that the shock move raised “glaring issues of professional ethics and, potentially, criminal liability”.

The Caruana Galizia family had called on the Attorney General's office to launch an internal inquiry to establish whether Mercieca had access to sensitive information related to Fenech's murder case. 

Merceica has defended his decision, saying he had no involvement in Fenech's case when working with the AG's office.

Reacting, PN justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi noted that the government had made no mention of the inquiry's terms of reference. 

"What are the inquiry's terms of reference, minister?" Azzopardi asked. 

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