Attorney General’s discretion questioned
Two parliamentary questions answered by Justice Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici on Monday have again brought out elements of the Attorney General ’s power of discretion without the onus of explanation.
Both questions were asked by Nationalist MP Franco Debono, who recently in Parliament said that the unfettered discretion which the AG enjoys in the legal system is one of its major problems especially, but not only, under the drug laws. Even when a modicum of discretion is desirable, the AG should be bound to give reasons for his decisions.
In the past five years there were 43 cases of money laundering in which the Attorney General ordered that steps be taken before the Criminal Court, as well as one that he referred to the Magistrates’ Court. The 43 cases included eight in which the order for criminal action was countermanded.
Between 2006 and 2011 the Attorney General withdrew eight cases that had been referred to the Criminal Court and referred six of them to the Magistrates’ Court.