Lawyers representing Yorgen Fenech have written to Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti over what they claim were attempts to intimidate Judge Giovanni Grixti.
Grixti presided over a bail hearing yesterday in which lawyers for Fenech made their case for him to be released on bail.
At the end of the sitting, the judge said he would be handing down a decree from his chambers with many wondering whether bail could be granted, given that the Attorney General had filed a Bill of Indictment against Fenech before the sitting began.
As the nation waited for the judge’s decision, it was revealed by Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, that Grixti had once bought a boat from Fenech’s late father, George.
Shortly after, Grixti handed down his decree, denying Fenech bail over fears that he would attempt to escape the country if released from prison.
“While [Fenech] was waiting for [the judge’s] decree, the parte civile lawyer [Jason Azzopardi], for his own reasons, chose to write to you and published the contents of his letter with the obvious intention of influencing the judge,” the lawyers said.
They noted that Azzopardi was well aware of the fact that they can’t recuse themselves or abstain from a case for any reason other than those listed in the Criminal Code.
Moreover, they said that in instances where a party to a case wants the recusal of the judge, there are procedures laid down at law through which this can happen.
“The allegation that the judge, 13 years ago, could have bought a second-hand boat that was almost 20 years old, from the accused’s father, is not a valid reason for recusal,” they added.
The lawyers took a swing at Azzopardi, saying that he was projecting his own mindset when suggesting that anyone who has bought something or been rendered a service by the Fenechs was also owned by them.
“The letter sent to abusively and the contents of which were published by the same lawyer on his Facebook page, along with insults in various posts, all of which were uploaded today before the judge’s decision, are nothing but a continuation of a campaign of systematic intimidation in collaboration with the media, with the intention of prejudicing and abuse of the accused’s rights at the expense of a fair hearing.”
The lawyers concluded by saying they deplored this “intimidation” that was a threat to Fenech’s right to a fair hearing.
What do you make of the lawyers arguments?