Justice Minister Jonathan Attard has pledged to “investigate and act” if justice was hindered when lawyers accused of attempting to bribe a journalist were cleared by a court on Monday because of a mistake by the Attorney General's office. 

The minister was asked in parliament whether he still had confidence in Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg after Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca were cleared on a technicality. 

In later comments to Times of Malta, the Justice Minister refused to weigh in on  Victoria Buttigieg's track record.

The charges were dropped due to the prosecution citing the incorrect law when bringing charges against the two lawyers, who were accused of trying to bribe Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin. 

One of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sons has called for an independent inquiry into the AG’s "ability and willingness to prosecute corruption" and NGO Repubblika has called for Buttigieg’s resignation.

Asked by Nationalist Party MP Mark Anthony Sammut whether the Attorney General still enjoyed his confidence after the “mess” that had unfolded in court, Attard said that he would not comment on the specifics of the case, as it may prejudice a future appeal. 

However, he added, that in any situation that had to do with upholding the rule of law, the government was committed to maintaining its reform. 

“In a general sense, what I will say as Justice Minister is that I will insist that our reform process will not be hampered,” he said. 

“If it results that things did not proceed as they should have, we will investigate and take the necessary action.”

Minister refuses to weigh in on AG's track record

Attard refused to weigh in on the Attorney General's wider track record of decisions that have been criticised. 

Last year, the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder slammed Buttigieg for facilitating the signing of an agreement with Electrogas without parliament's approval, back when she was still a lawyer at the AG's office.

In January, the Malta police union sarcastically invited Buttigieg "to the next gunfight," over her decision to drop attempted murder charges against a suspect in the 2010 HSBC hold-up.

A month later, a court ordered the arrest of Darren Debono, known as It-Topo, over his refusal to testify, despite reaching a plea deal with the Attorney General in exchange for the attempted murder charges going away. 

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