The timing of lawyer Charles Mercieca’s transition from public prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office to criminal defence lawyer for Yorgen Fenech points to prior collusion, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundations said in a statement.
Fenech is charged with conspiring to assassinate the journalist in October 2017. Caruana Galizia’s family drew attention to the fact that Mercieca resigned from his position as a criminal prosecutor on Tuesday afternoon and appeared in court as part of Fenech’s defence team the following morning.
This, they said, pointed to collusion between the defence team of the man accused and a serving criminal prosecutor. “The implications for the Office of the Attorney General and for Malta’s already weak criminal justice system are serious.”
Malta prosecutor resigns yesterday at 5pm and turns up in court this morning representing the man charged with my mother's murder. Undeniable collusion between the prosecutor's office and Fenech's defence team, on the same day they said there was no need for a Europol JIT. https://t.co/RdoI7Q67MI
— Matthew Caruana Galizia (@mcaruanagalizia) May 6, 2020
In the interest of preserving the integrity of the prosecution’s case and ensuring justice is served, the family of the victim has written to the Attorney General to immediately launch an internal investigation and to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves.
The letter was copied to the Commission for the Administration of Justice, which is responsible for discipline over advocates.
Special Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Pieter Omtzigt, said Mercieca’s case was a “disturbing development”.
“This potential breach of professional ethics cannot violate the integrity of the investigation,” he said.
A disturbing development in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case. The Maltese authorities must immediately ensure that this potential breach of professional ethics cannot violate the integrity of the investigation https://t.co/ASSSHtRCfN
— Pieter Omtzigt (@PieterOmtzigt) May 7, 2020
Last week, a group of international press freedom organisations including the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation appealed to Attorney General Peter Grech to request Europol to immediately set up a Joint Investigation Team to support the judicial proceedings linked to the journalist’s assassination.
Mercieca, son of the former Labour MP Franco Mercieca, is representing Fenech in a Constitutional Case filed against the Office of the State Advocate and Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci. Fenech is challenging the constitutional validity of the public health emergency order and repeated refusals of bail.