While already facing one set of criminal charges in court, Justice Commissioner Alessandro Lia is also being investigated for falsifying public documents, but in the face of mounting legal pressure, he is refusing to step down from any of his government-appointed positions.
Lia is currently the defendant in a court case for domestic violence against his estranged wife, Magistrate Nadine Lia, but The Shift found that he is also under investigation following a complaint in August from her father over the alleged falsification of documents relating to his car.
Despite the two cases, Lia told The Shift through his lawyer that he intends to continue his work overseeing the same courts he is currently subject to.
The Shift recently reported that Lia was reappointed to his position as justice commissioner for another two years by Prime Minister Robert Abela when the case involving Nadine was already in the courts.
But a second complaint, seen by The Shift, details that Nadine’s father filed an official criminal complaint in August asking the police to initiate criminal action against Lia and his friend, Andrew Cremona. It alleges that the two falsified documents related to the car, which was supposed to be scrapped, to make an illicit profit of under €5,000.
Inspector Jonathan Ransley is investigating the case. No charges had been filed in court at the time of publication.
The Shift contacted Lia to ask about the new criminal complaint against him. Through his lawyer, he said it was the result of “an acrimonious matrimonial suit”.
“My client knows that allegations were made to the authorities on that or an analogous topic by his estranged wife and her relatives. He knows that the allegations made were found to be absolutely without base and were probably (and correctly) seen in the broader context of an acrimonious matrimonial suit,” lawyer Stephen Thake said.
“My client could easily disprove any allegation of wrongdoing in the unlikely event that the allegations are resuscitated before any forum,” the lawyer added.
In July, Lia was charged with aggravated bodily harm, threatening behaviour, misuse of telecommunications, harassment and causing fear of violence to his former wife.
If found guilty, the current justice commissioner risks a prison sentence.
While no specific legal provision prevents someone charged with a crime from holding the position of justice commissioner, the nature of the charges and the addition of others raise concerns about his role.
In addition, civil servants, even in the lowest grades, are immediately suspended from their jobs when criminal charges are brought against them in court.
Lia also sits on the board of the constitutional body, the Broadcasting Authority.
His lawyer told The Shift that Lia “does not believe that anyone in any public office should consider retiring from the office simply because a scurrilous and untrue allegation is made”.
“He certainly does not intend to do so,” he added.