Judge Giovanni Bonello last night was awarded the Gold Medal of the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

The society's council, in terms of the statute, chose Judge Bonello from 12 other nominations in recognition of his outstanding original research and publications on Maltese history and the history of art in Malta. Dr Bonello has written scores of originally researched Melitensia articles for The Sunday Times.

The Gold Medal was conferred on Judge Bonello by President Guido de Marco during a ceremony held at Palazzo De La Salle, Valletta.

The Gold Medal is not awarded every year and is only given when the society deems it is well deserved. It was last given in 1999 to the society's president, tenor Paul Asciak.

The society, which has just celebrated its 150th anniversary, first awarded the Gold Medal in 1896. In the past, factories and organisations were among those awarded this prestigious medal.

In his opening speech Mr Asciak said the society felt it had to reward Judge Bonello for uncovering aspects and episodes of Malta's history which would have otherwise remained hidden in some archives or library.

Judge Bonello's distinguished career was yesterday delved into by Dr Mario Tabone Vassallo after a short musical interlude by Caroline Calleja and Maria Blanco.

Judge Bonello, who was born in Floriana on June 11, 1936, is a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

He has specialised in human rights and defended 170 cases before Maltese courts, the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights.

He has also contributed extensively to the development of the law protecting human rights on the island and in 1991 he was nominated Chief Justice and president of the Constitutional Court, a post which he declined.

Apart from his success in the legal field, Judge Bonello is also an authority on Maltese history and the history of art in Malta.

His large number of books and articles on these themes, scattered in numerous newspapers and academic journals, are ample proof of his dedication to his childhood passion.

He is also a postal history expert and the owner of a huge collection of about 20,000 antique Maltese postcards.

Judge Bonello is Cavaliere della Repubblica, an honour bestowed on him by the Italian President, and Knight of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

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