Magistrate Nadine Lia has opted not to recuse herself from the police’s latest case against Yorgen Fenech.
Fenech, who has been indicted for his role in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, has also been charged with attempting to purchase military-grade weapons off the dark web.
He denies all accusations.
Fenech was charged last week, with the case being assigned to Nadine Lia, the daughter-in-law of Pawlu Lia.
Lia is former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s lawyer as well as the government’s representative on the Commissioner for the Administration of Justice, which is responsible for taking disciplinary action against members of the judiciary.
He has also defended former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri but renounced his brief in the wake of Schembri’s arrest back in 2019.
Since being appointed magistrate in 2020, Lia has recused herself from proceedings linked to the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination three times.
Lia had been assigned to the murder case against Fenech, as well as the magisterial inquiry into the state witness Melvin Theuma’s phantom job with the government.
She was also assigned the compilation of evidence against the Maksar brothers, George Degiorgio and Jamie Vella.
In all three cases, Lia decided to recuse herself following requests by parties in the cases. In all three cases, Lia noted that there were no legal grounds for her recusal and that she was choosing to do so for there to be no doubts about the respective cases.
Given that the intended targets of the alleged weapons purchases remain unknown, there are no parties to the case other than the prosecution and the defence.
In two of the three cases listed above, it was the Caruana Galizia family that had requested the magistrate’s recusal.
It is also worth noting that while Fenech had objected to Lia presiding over the compilation of evidence against him, no such concerns were raised with respect to this case.
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