Prime Minister Robert Abela has refrained from taking any steps over a situation that has developed at the Broadcasting Authority concerning the position of one of the members of the constitutional body undergoing criminal procedures.
Broadcasting Authority sources told The Shift that while it was suggested to lawyer and Labour representative Alessandro Lia to step aside due to his ongoing criminal charges, he still insists on keeping his seat despite the awkwardness of his position.
The sources said that while it is “very embarrassing and not on” to have a sitting member of the authority undergoing serious criminal procedures, nothing can be done if he is not removed from his position by the President of Malta.
According to the Constitution, members of the Broadcasting Authority are appointed by the President of Malta following their nomination by the prime minister.
“We can assure you that representations on the issue have been repeatedly made to the Office of the Prime Minister to act. However, despite weeks of toing and froing, the prime minister seems not to want to take any action.”
Lia and his wife, Magistrate Nadine Lia, face separate criminal charges in court. The legal proceedings involving Dr Lia are being heard by Magistrate Lara Lanfranco, who has ordered a ban on reporting these proceedings.
The prime minister’s spokesperson, Edward Montebello, did not reply to questions on whether Lia, who is still a member of the Broadcasting Authority, should step down or be removed.
It is an unwritten practice that while two nominees are put forward by the Labour Party, the other two members are nominated by the PN. Dr Lia, the son of veteran Labour Party lawyer Pawlu Lia, was nominated by the Labour Party in government.
Court publishes ban and warns of legal action
Meanwhile, the court has banned reporting ongoing proceedings between the couple. Magistrate Lanfranco decreed that all procedures in her courtroom regarding the case should be held behind closed doors.
The magistrate warned the media that legal action would be taken against those disregarding her order.
No reason was given for these proceedings being held behind closed doors.
It is unclear whether the same applies to the case il-Pulzija vs. Nadine Lia. The Shift has not been officially informed about any such ban even though Magistrate Lia’s lawyer, Lara Dimitrijevic, had written to The Shift about a similar ban.
This media house will not, at least for the time being, publish any information from within the courtroom about the cases, though it is not excluded that the scope of the ban is subject to challenge.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Lia continues her work, presiding over a criminal court despite facing criminal procedures herself.
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti, who can reappoint cases to ensure justice is served, has also taken no action.