Prime Minister Robert Abela and Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti are facing growing internal pressure from individual members of the Commission for the Administration of Justice to take action as more serious criminal charges being faced by lawyer Alessandro Lia, appointed by Abela as a Commissioner for Justice, are coming to light.
As the court presided over by Magistrate Lara Lanfranco, is this week expected to hear more evidence against the well-connected lawyer, pressure on the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice to suspend him and his estranged wife Magistrate Nadine Lia from their duties is increasing.
The Shift can report Alessandro Lia is being accused by the police of serious charges that carry a prison sentence of more than nine years.
Lia, the son of veteran lawyer Pawlu Lia, who is the Prime Minister’s representative on the Commission for the Administration of Justice, which is responsible for disciplining members of the Judiciary, was charged in court a few weeks ago with aggravated grievous bodily harm, threats, the wrong use of telecommunications, harassment, and causing fear of violence. All the charges involve his estranged wife.
The police have also filed charges, although less serious, against Lia’s wife, Magistrate Nadine Lia, following a counter-report filed by her estranged husband.
Despite the high profile of those involved in the criminal cases – a magistrate and a well-connected lawyer and Commissioner for Justice – the media has so far steered clear of reporting the cases amidst pressure to keep the highly acrimonious situation as far from the public eye as possible.
Veteran court insiders have told The Shift legal circles are now fully aware of what is going on, the issue has now become one of “public concern” since the marital conflict is creating court delays.
“This is no longer a matter of a family feud. This is now having repercussions on regular people expecting justice. Do they have to wait years for the Lias to settle their personal issues before those before they can have their cases decided?”
“A presiding member of the judiciary also needs to be serene and it is evident that the two are not currently in any such frame of mind. The Prime Minister and the Chief Justice can’t continue delaying what is expected of them,” another source observed.
Nadine and Alessandro Lia cannot be removed from office unless through a parliamentary impeachment motion. However, as has happened in other instances, their cases can be reassigned to other members of the judiciary to allow the wheels of justice to continue rolling.
The criminal cases that Magistrate Lanfranco is expected to continue hearing Wednesday morning are being described as “embarrassing” for the presiding magistrate, who is now expected to rule on two serious and opposing claims involving two other members of the judiciary.
Alessandro Lia was re-appointed as a Commissioner for Justice by Robert Abela. He is also Labour’s representative on the constitutionally appointed Broadcasting Authority and was recently appointed to the board of Engineering Resources Ltd. He also receives several direct orders from the government through the legal office he shares with his father.