Zammit Lewis not fit for European Court of Justice, Repubblika tells committee

Edward Zammit Lewis is not fit to occupy the post of Judge at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, Repubblika has said in a letter to the committee that will decide his fate.

The organisation listed his failure to uphold the rule of law, especially at a time of his friendship with Yorgen Fenech, accused of involvement in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“First, the candidate served as a government minister from 13 March 2013 to 20 February 2022. During his term of office, on 16 October 2017, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated by a car bomb. That murder was the culmination of years of erosion of the rule of law in Malta, for which the candidate and his former colleagues have responsibility,” Repubblika said in its letter to Article 255 Committee.

The committee comprises experts, usually former ECJ Judges, tasked with approving nominees from different countries.

Repubblika refers to the public inquiry in its letter. The three Judges appointed by the government concluded that “the State was ultimately responsible for the environment which enabled the commission of the crime both due to the inaction of the entities responsible as well as through the positive acts of vilification, name-calling and harassment by officials in high positions within the administration.”

The public inquiry report stresses: “Not only did the government not take any action to remedy this situation, the Cabinet and all the parliamentary group continued giving their support with votes of confidence in
parliament for the implicated individuals.” Among them was Zammit Lewis.

In its letter to the committee, Repubblika points out that “The candidate repeatedly and publicly defended the retention of his colleagues who were exposed by the Panama Papers for having set up illegal offshore
accounts when it became increasingly clear that the off-shore accounts were set up to launder proceeds from bribery and corruption.”

“The candidate repeatedly and publicly defended his colleagues when it became clear that the offshore companies exposed by the Panama Papers were due to receive payments from accounts in Dubai held by a prominent local businessman, Mr Yorgen Fenech, who was awarded lucrative public contracts.”

Fenech is awaiting trial for Caruana Galizia’s murder, and prosecutors believe the murder was ordered to prevent her from publishing further evidence of corruption.

“When found responsible, together with his colleagues, of failing to act to prevent the collapse of the rule of law, the candidate ignored the findings of the inquiry in his regard and assumed zero responsibility, staying in office until the prime minister left him out of his cabinet with no explanation for that decision,” Repubblika said in its letter to the committee.

Though he served as justice minister with direct competence on matters covered by the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, the candidate failed to implement or even propose for discussion any of the inquiry’s recommendations for reform.

“As Minister for Justice, the candidate ensured that none of the recommended legislative or administrative changes to empower law enforcement to fight organised crime and corruption and to protect press freedom and the safety of journalists, which could have saved Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life, were implemented during his term,” Repubblika added.

The organisation then lists Whatsapp chats Zammit Lewis sent to Fenech when it was known he was the owner of Dubai company 17 Black, set up for kickbacks to politicians from the Electrogas energy deal.

In those messages, Zammit Lewis told Fenech, who is accused of commissioning the journalist’s murder, that he loved him and missed him, desperately seeking some time with him.

The candidate accepted Fenech’s hospitality when travelling by private jet with his then-prime minister Joseph Muscatt and staying at a hotel in France owned by Fenech. Despite at first denying this fact, records in Fenech’s phone, captured by the police, contradicted Zammit Lewis’ version of events.

All this and more, Repubblika told the committee, showed that Zammit Lewis demonstrated an appalling lack of judgment, an unwillingness to act with conscience and preserve the rule of law while in public office, and a willingness to retain inappropriate and secret relationships despite the manifest conflict between those
relationships and his ethical and constitutional duties as a holder of public office.

The organisation also points out the observations made by the European Commission in its 2022 Rule of Law report concerning Malta, covering the period when Zammit Lewis was justice minister, referring also to recommendations by the Venice Commission that were ignored.

“He is not a champion of judicial independence, and despite going on record preaching the opposite view, he has acted in a way that shows that he considers the judiciary should be subservient to the discretion and authority of the executive branch,” Repubblika stated.

Zammit Lewis has no judicial experience whatsoever. Former candidates put forward by Malta have been rejected, even when they had decades of experience working as Judges.

                           

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5 Comments
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
20 days ago

A first-class certificate of recommendation!

Steve
Steve
20 days ago

Are they trying to patronize the ECJ?

Hopeless
Hopeless
20 days ago

Mediocrity and corruption are he hallmarks of Malta’s establishment (the real one)

carlos
19 days ago

nispera li ma jinsiex jghidilhom li qieghed hem bis-sahha ta’ gahan – it-titoli u l-grazzi ghall-dawk li fdawh bil-vot.

Mick
Mick
19 days ago

Brilliant picture of a Gahan dork even by their standards. Prosit

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