A magistrate ordered the police to immediately free from arrest a tile layer they escorted to court to charge him with misappropriation, ruling there was no legal basis for his arraignment under arrest.
The court also declared invalid the arrest of a 20-year-old the police wanted to charge in connection with a mugging.
Three suspected drug traffickers were released from preventive custody because their arrest was, likewise, deemed invalid.
A company director found guilty over an accident that occurred in 2008 will have his case heard again after the original judgment was quashed over a procedural error.
A foreigner jailed after admitting he used false documents to facilitate human trafficking was freed when a judge determined the principal immigration office was not empowered by law to prosecute.
Two brothers accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia were granted compensation as judges found their fundamental human rights had been breached as a result of lengthy court proceedings (over a 2000 armed robbery) and unauthorised phone tapping.
Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna were also awarded compensation because the freezing of their assets had breached their rights.
In another high-profile case, the arraignment of former European commissioner John Dalli on an alleged €60 million bribe drew a blank because of immunity from prosecution, nine years after his resignation.
It also emerged in court that financial crimes investigators who seized electronic equipment from the home of a former Pilatus Bank senior official in April have still to establish whether the data is relevant to money laundering proceedings.
Just days ago, former MEP Marlene Mizzi avoided facing criminal action in connection with an ‘insulting’ letter sent to a judge as the date on the police summons was overwritten and scribbled in a way that made it barely legible.
A few weeks earlier, the 2015 prosecution of a former Gozitan civil servant on charges of fraud, misappropriation and abuse of power was thrown out of the window by the court of appeal, deeming the supposed whistleblower as not credible. This case had practically ended former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono’s political career: she resigned from the Nationalist parliamentary group when her husband was arraigned.
Then, there is the matter of the same evidence being repeated in court over and over again for whatever reason. This happened only the other day when the son of the assassinated blogger had, for the umpteenth time, to go through the heart-rendering account of how he saw his mother butchered in a powerful explosion close to their home.
Just a token of the many instances that, justifiably, lead one to ask: is this truly justice? Is the arm of the law long enough? Is the culture of impunity being addressed?
The justice minister keeps bragging about court reform, insisting he is delivering. It is, however, becoming increasingly obvious that such reform must go well beyond the court and the judiciary.
As justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done and human rights upheld, certain procedures and practices will have to be retained but it does not mean they cannot be simplified and updated.
That is likely to require new laws and amendments, possibly even of a constitutional nature. But, at the end of the day, it will very much depend on the quality of those involved in the justice ‘supply chain’.
It is an exercise all the structures and institutions burdened with the responsibility to ensure the rule of law prevails – in practice, not just on paper – must commit to undertake urgently.
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