Businessman Yorgen Fenech, who stands charged with masterminding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has appealed the latest decision by the court which denied his request to have a judge disqualified from presiding over his trial.
Fenech’s attempt to have Madam Justice Edwina Grima disqualified from presiding his trial was dismissed by the First Hall of the Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction earlier this month, which declared that this was “solely the umpteenth attempt to uselessly prolong proceedings.”
He had filed the case after Madam Justice Grima rejected an application by his lawyers to abstain from the trial where the businessman stands accused of complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Fenech had argued that the fact that the Attorney General was “directly or indirectly” involved in the selection of the judge was “a grave injustice and against every notion of fair hearing.”
In her judgment last month, Madam Justice Anna Felice declared that she was “perplexed” by this dual argument which “lacked all sense of logic.” Logic dictated that one either had trust in the judge or did not.
But in his appeal, Fenech lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran, Charles Mercieca and Marion Camilleri stressed the notion that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done.
They clarified that they were not questioning Madam Justice Grima’s integrity and impartiality but argued that these had been tarnished by the Attorney General’s involvement in her appointment procedure.
The lawyers argued that the first court had not fully understood their arguments because the Attorney General who appointed the judge now has a direct interest in the case against their client.
They said this was not a question of prolonging proceedings, as the first court put it, but one where the Attorney General had a direct involvement in the appointment of the judge in question before the method to appoint members of the judiciary changed following a report by the Venice Commission.
They argued that the same office that chose the judge is now asking the same judge to send their client to jail for life.
They, therefore, called on the appeals court to overturn Madam Justice Felice’s decision and uphold their arguments.