The family of Daphne Caruana Galizia as well as Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of being an accomplice in her murder, have separately called on Magistrate Nadine Lia to abstain from hearing the compilation of evidence.
The compilation of evidence against Mr Fenech is due to start on Wednesday.
Mr Fenech, the suspected mastermind of the murder, was arraigned late on Saturday and pleaded not guilty of involvement in the murder.
Both the family and Mr Fenech pointed to the fact that the magistrate is the daughter-in-law of the prime minister’s private lawyer.
In the family’s application, Peter Caruana Galizia, together with his three sons Matthew, Andrew and Paul, said that they had expected the magistrate, assigned the compilation by lot, to abstain for obvious reasons, since justice had to be seen to be done.
The assassination case involved an accused, evidence and witnesses, already in the public domain, “intimately and intrinsically linked to the Office of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister himself and his former chief of staff whose lawyer was the magistrate’s father-in-law, said the applicants.
Pointing out that then-magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera had abstained from handling the inquiry a day after the car bomb murder of Ms Caruana Galizia on October 16, 2017, the family also made reference to a more recent case when Magistrate Lia abstained from presiding over the compilation of evidence concerning the Paqpaqli incident.
On that occasion, Magistrate Lia had said that since she was “slightly acquainted socially with one of the accused”, she was abstaining.