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Case of déjà vu: judiciary in the dock

Malta’s justice system was rocked to its core just over 10 years ago when then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami announced that two judges, including the Chief Justice, were under police investigation for bribery.

Former Chief Justice Noel Arrigo and former judge Patrick Vella were charged in court for accepting bribes on a hot August 4, 2002, a few days after Dr Fenech Adami broke the news in a press conference.

The two initially pleaded innocent and were granted bail.

In March 2007, Mr Vella apologised and admitted to accepting a bribe of Lm10,000 (€23,300) for reducing the jail term of drug trafficker Mario Camilleri, known as L-Imnieħru. He was handed a two-year jail term and was released in July 2008 after being kept at the division for vulnerable people, out of fear that other inmates, previously sentenced by him, could be a threat.

Meanwhile, Dr Arrigo insisted on his innocence but was jailed for two years and nine months in November 2009, a sentence that was confirmed in May 2010 by the Court of Appeal.

He was found guilty of having reduced the jail term of Mr Camilleri after receiving a bribe of €11,650. He was also found guilty of exerting influence on other judges to follow suit and revealing the details of a judgment before it was handed down.

Dr Arrigo was held at the Forensic Unit of Mount Carmel Hospital instead of at Corradino prison due to depression and other health problems. He was released in September 2011 after serving 22 months.

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