Magistrate Nadine Lia has abstained from hearing the inquiry into the phantom job given to self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma.
Lawyers John Gauci, Ruth Ellul and Julian Farrugia signed an application filed by Anthony Muscat requesting Lia’s recusal. Muscat heads the company which employed Theuma.
In a decree issued on Tuesday, Magistrate Lia who is related by marriage to outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s personal lawyer Pawlu Lia, said that she was recusing herself to ensure that ‘justice was seen to be done’.
In a 12-page decree, the magistrate cited case law from national, foreign and EU courts.
Earlier this month Lia was asked to abstain from presiding over the compilation of evidence against Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.
In court, Theuma said that he was given a government job, after he met with then OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and OPM Head of Customer Care Sandro Craus at Castille. Theuma explained that after Fenech had told him to contract Caruana Galizia’s murder, he had called him informing that Craus would call him. Craus had given Theuma an appointment with Schembri at Castille.
Theuma recalled how he had hesitated entering Castille and eventually entered through the main door where he was met by Schembri. In his sworn testimony, Theuma said that Schembri had gave him a tour of Castille followed by an espresso. He was instructed to turn up at the Social Solidarity Ministry the next day.
Theuma told the court that he did not know what his job was. His employment started on 1 May 2017 – when the snap election was announced during Partit Laburista May Day mass meeting.
The government had initially said that there was no record of Theuma’s employment, but the contract was later published in the media. Theuma was sacked after around four months. The government then said that Theuma was employed through ‘a public call’.