Two magistrates will share vacant post

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Two magistrates will fill the vacant post left by Dr Paul Coppini. 

Dr Coppini is retiring as he reached the maximum age allowed by law for a magistrate to serve the judiciary. Two magistrates originating from Gozo, Simone Grech and Monica Vella are replacing Coppini.

Civil and Criminal cases at the Gozo Courts used to be presided by two magistrates. Dr Paul Coppini, who served for some 25 years, and Dr Brigette Sultana appointed in April 2019. 

Informed sources have told Newsbook.com.mt that both Vella and Grech were interested in the post left vacant by Coppini. They both met with the Director at the Gozo Magisterial Court and struck an agreement to split the role and the workload. 

The Chief Justice has not yet officially appointed the new magistrates. A deferral for next week cases is still to be published.

Newsbook.com.mt has spoken to legal experts. They said that the Gozo Courts were supposed to have a First Hall presided by Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri. They added that this never materialised because of the pending constitutional y system. 

Vella Cuschieri was a magistrate in the Gozo Courts. She now holds the position of Judge within the Malta Courts replacing Dr Lorraine Schembri Orland who is now a judge at the European Court of Human Rights. 

A judge for the Gozo Courts? 

Partit Laburista had pledged a dedicated judge for the Gozo Courts in its 2013 electoral manifest. We are still waiting. 

The legal experts speaking with Newsbook.com.mt stated that such an appointment would improve the quality of the sentences pronounced at the Gozo Courts as well as improve the general administration of justice. 

Back in 2017, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici was reported saying that by the end of the year (2017), a judge will hear cases in Gozo. Bonnici also referred to the amendments in the law discussed in the house of representatives. 

A year later, in June 2018, Minister Bonnici told Newsbook.com.mt that implementation for a plan to appoint a judge for the Gozo Courts was to start in the coming months. 

The Gozo Courts have also been waiting for new premises for many years. 

On the 19th of October, Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana said that the government is exploring an alternative site. This new site will be the third site that the government is considering.