Updated 1.58pm - Added Chamber of Commerce statement
Comments by the Prime Minister yesterday constituted inappropriate pressure on the inquiring magistrate and went beyond all limits of prudence and responsibility, the Chamber of Advocates said.
During the programme Xtra last night, the Prime Minister was asked what he would do if he lost the election and resigned and was then cleared by the magisterial inquiry on the Egrant case. He replied that the magistrate would have to shoulder responsibility in such a scenario.
In a statement this afternoon, the chamber said it was seriously concerned by the Prime Minister's comments as they burdened the inquiring magistrate with the responsibility for the electoral result and the eventual consequences.
It said it was the Prime Minister himself who had set the inquiry in motion and it was he who had also called a general election in the shortest time allowed by the constitution, as was his prerogative.
It was the Prime Minister himself who had set the inquiry in motion and it was he who had also called a general election in the shortest time
Magisterial inquiries required time to be concluded and it was known that the inquiring magistrate was dedicating all his time to this inquiry, given the particular circumstances in which it had been called.
The chamber also pointed out that it was not within the Prime Minister’s remit to determine by when such an inquiry should be concluded.
It appealed to whosoever had influence on the public to refrain from making certain comments with respect to the judiciary.
“The judiciary should always be allowed to carry out its duties serenely and without any interference or pressure. This applies even more so during the tense time immediately prior to the general election,” it said.
'Rule of law is not an option'
In a separate statement, the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry noted that serious questions were being asked about Malta's stability and reputation, as a result of "the failure of some of our key national institutions."
The Chamber called for strong regulation to ensure public entities were protected from political interference and said that "bold measures" were needed to restore confidence, ensure good governance and reassure local and international investors.
"The incoming government needs to engage with the main social partners to ensure that the required remedial actions are undertaken as quickly and urgently as possible," the Chamber said.