The civil society NGO Repubblika expressed what it described as its ‘deep concern’ that a Magistrate’s order for the opening of an inquiry into the hospitals’ privatisation is being ignored by the court administration. Repubblika said that this was in manifest breach of the law. To this end, Repubblika filed a judicial protest against the Court Registrar demanding that the Court administration implements the law.
Repubblika insisted that the court administration reports to the executive branch “…and when acting outside the remit of the law, as in this case, we have another unacceptable encroachment on judicial independence by government Ministers” said the NGO.
The inquiry into the privatisation of hospitals was ordered on 18 July 2019 giving the persons identified as suspects a time window determined by law within which to appeal. Three of the four suspects, MInisters Edward Scicluna, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona, appealed. The fourth suspect, Ivan Vassallo, did not appeal and should now, by order of a Magistrate, be the subject of an ongoing inquiry.
“Yesterday,” said Repubblika, “nine days after the inquiry was supposed to have started, we were notified by the Court of Appeal to whom Ivan Vassallo did not resort, to comment on the Court Registrar’s request for the case file in order for the inquiry to commence.
“We are outraged at these unjustified and illegal delays” said Repubblika.
Repubblika said that it is in government’s best interests that this inquiry does not happen with government ministers using every ploy in the book to delay or even prevent the investigations. “That is an abuse of the law whilst appearing to stay within it” said Repubblika. The NGO said that failure to follow Court orders and allow a longer window for evidence to be hidden or destroyed is in defiance and in breach of the law.
Repubblika said that its role is to act as a watchdog on rule of law breaches. “We will do this to the best of our ability. But it is one thing to point out errors that in a functioning democracy would be corrected. It is altogether a different reality for us to find ourselves governed by a regime that acts as if laws apply to everyone but its own corrupt cronies” concluded Republika.