Magistrate Nadine Lia, the daughter-in-law of Joseph Muscat’s lawyer, has been appointed to oversee the compilation of evidence against Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech over the procurement of firearms.
On 26th August, Fenecg was charged with two crimes: attempting to purchase weapons banned by the Arms Act and attempting to do so without being in possession of a license.
Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia had previously told a court that Fenech had attempted to buy two grenades, two Glock pistols, a Skorpion automatic pistol and some 700 rounds of ammunition in November 2018.
Fenech is understood to have paid for the weapons using Bitcoin, but it is unclear whether they were ever delivered to him.
Besides being Muscat’s personal lawyer, Pawlu Lia is also the government’s representative on the Commission For The Administration Of Justice, which is responsible for disciplinary action against the judiciary and lawyers.
Lia also represented Muscat’s disgraced former chief of staff Keith Schembri, only dropping him as a client in the wake of his arrest amid a political crisis brought on by Fenech’s arrest.
He has also been involved in many of the court cases involving the Labour Party and its exponents, most notably facing off against Adrian Delia in his bid to publish a full version of the Egrant Inquiry.
Magistrate Nadine Lia was appointed in 2020, which was immediately controversial given her father-in-law’s links to the ruling government. The appointment was contested in court by activist group Repubblika, with the European Court of Justice set to give its ruling on the issue.
Lia has been made to recuse herself from cases related to the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination on three occasions. She was initially assigned to the murder case against Fenech and the magisterial inquiry into middleman-turned-state-witness Melvin Theuma’s phantom government job.
She was also chosen to oversee the compilation of evidence against the Maksar brothers, George Degiorgio, and Jamie Vella over the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Carmel Chircop.
It is as yet unknown whether she will now do the same.
Should Lia recuse herself?