Former Labour Party deputy leader Toni Abela sworn in as judge, Grazio Mercieca sworn in as magistrate
Former Labour Party deputy leader Toni Abela has been officially appointed as judge during a swearing-in ceremony presided by the President of Malta, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.
The ceremony, held at the President’s Palace in Valletta, also saw the appointment of Dr Grazio Mercieca as magistrate.
Dr Abela has for a long time served as Labour Party lawyer, apart from the political office he held.
The government said that the two appointments are the first to be made through a committee on judicial appointments made up of the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General and the president of the Chamber of Advocates.
Earlier this year, Dr Abela’s nomination to the European Court of Auditors was rejected by the European Parliament.
Speaking during the ceremony, Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri warned against attacks on members of the judiciary and noted that it was normal for judges and magistrates to come from political backgrounds. History shows us, he said, that the judiciary has always been able to rise above politics and do its job in an impartial manner. He also warned against the use of harsh words by those who do not agree with certain court decisions.
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said she was sure that Dr Abela and Dr Mercieca would be able to distance themselves from politics. She also urged them to not forget the voice of children.
The President presented a document containing guidelines by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on childfriendly justice. A copy of this document was given to the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, the Chief Justice and the newly-appointed members of the judiciary.
Since taking over, the Labour government has made 14 appointments to the judiciary. These appointments come only months after Speaker Anglu Farrugia’s daughter, Caroline Farrugia Frendo, was appointed magistrate amid controversy.