For­mer Labour Party deputy leader Toni Abela sworn in as judge, Grazio Mer­cieca sworn in as mag­is­trate

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel Schem­bri Pho­to­graphs by Jonathan Borg

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.

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