Mario Camilleri, also known as L-Imnieńßru, was jailed along with his son and a businessman in connection with the bribery of former Chief Justice Noel Arrigo and former Judge Patrick Vella.

Mr Camilleri was jailed for four years while his son Pierre and businessman Anthony Grech Sant were given three years after being found guilty of being accomplices in the bribery of the judges.

The judgment now paves the way for the trial of the former Chief Justice, whose case has been pending since the accused - who are expected to testify in his case - could not previously take the witness stand while their respective cases were ongoing.

The case sent shock waves through the islands after the secret service flagged it up during an investigation into drug trafficking in 2002.

The information was that a 16-year jail term, handed down to Mr Camilleri for drug trafficking, on appeal had been reduced by the two judges sitting in the Criminal Court of Appeal after they accepted a Lm10,000 bribe.

In March 2007, Dr Vella pleaded guilty to the charges and was given a two-year jail term which he has served.

His conviction followed that of Joseph Zammit, known as Is-Sei, who a year earlier had admitted to bribing Dr Vella and former Chief Justice Noel Arrigo.

Dr Arrigo is still out on bail awaiting trial.

Taking the witness stand against the Camilleris and Mr Grech Sant, Mr Zammit said that in 2002 Pierre Camilleri had approached him to ask if he could speak to Dr Vella about "helping his father".

Mr Zammit said that he had spoken to Dr Vella about the case and that at first, the judge declined the offer but eventually accepted when he offered him Lm10,000 on a second attempt.

Mr Zammit also said that he also spoke to Mr Grech Sant, who was an old friend of the former Chief Justice, to try and get him to accept the money in return for a reduced sentence for Mr Camilleri.

Mr Grech Sant duly app-roached Dr Arrigo who said that he would "see what he could do to help". However, Mr Zammit said that he too approached the former Chief Justice who accepted the deal.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli, who presided over the case, said that the Camilleris could not be found guilty of directly bribing the former judiciary members, because they did not directly offer the money to them.

Mr Grech Sant, a personal friend of the former Chief Justice, could not be found guilty either, because he was not the person offering the bribe to him.

However the men could be found guilty of being accomplices in the bribery of the judges.

Taking into consideration the severity of the case, particularly the negative impact that it had on the judicial system, Mario Camilleri was jailed for four years and his son and Mr Grech Sant for three yearseach. Three years is the maximum penalty allowable by law.

The penalties were actually increased as a result of this case but the changes could not be made to apply to any of the accused retroactively. On top of the three years, Mario Camilleri was given another year for relapsing.

The court added that the negative impact was one felt by the judiciary because they wanted the public to have full faith in them.

"The public felt the impact because they should have no doubt about the impartiality and integrity of any judge or magistrate," she said.

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