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Farrugia Sacco: move to impeach me is political

‘Some of judiciary objected to code’

Mr Justice Lino Farrguia Sacco.Mr Justice Lino Farrguia Sacco.

Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco yesterday questioned the validity of the judiciary’s code of ethics and described the impeachment motion against him as “politically motivated”.

He was testifying in a constitutional case in which he is demanding that two members of the Commission for the Administration of Justice abstain from hearing the impeachment case.

They are Victor Caruana Colombo, a retired judge, and the president of the Chamber of Advocates, Reuben Balzan.

The impeachment motion was presented to the commission by the Prime Minister after Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco turned down calls to resign following the findings of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which had mentioned him in connection with a probe over the sale of Olympic tickets.

Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco yesterday claimed the judiciary’s code of ethics had been introduced even though several of its members had not agreed with it.

“There were a lot of objections from many members of the judiciary on this code of ethics,” he told the court.

“It was signed by all, with the exception of Judge Anton Depasquale, only after a lot of pressure exerted by the then Chief Justice, Joseph Said Pullicino.”

To back up the claim, he presented copies of private e-mails between members of the judiciary, showing that objections were raised by judges Vincent DeGaetano and Franco Depasquale.

He said the impeachment motion was a politically motivated exercise stemming from his political beliefs.

He insisted he had never been reprimanded or censured by the IOC over commissions on the sale of tickets for the Sochi Olympic Games.

This had been confirmed in writing by a high ranking official of the IOC, he added.

“Despite this, I was attacked vehemently by the Prime Minister, the media and the Ombudsman (former Chief Justice Said Pullicino) and accused of things which I didn’t do,” he said.

Madam Justice Anna Felice, presiding, warned him that his testimony should focus on his demand for the removal of the two members of the commission and not on the merits of the motion against him.

Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco said Dr Balzan was indirectly involved in the motion against him through his close contacts with the Nationalist Party.

The lawyer was a partner in a law firm with minister Francis Zammit Dimech and also appeared in photos during the election of Simon Busuttil as the PN’s deputy leader.

He claimed that a conflict of interest also existed in the case of Judge Caruana Colombo who in 2007, as a member of the same Commission, had taken part in a decision to publicly censure him for having stayed on as president of the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC).

According to the Commission, this went against the code of ethics: members of the judiciary should not hold any other office, even on a voluntary basis.

Dr Farrugia Sacco also claimed that the Commission was not giving him the necessary time to prepare his defence, while it has held regular sessions on his case.

“I had marshals notifying me late at night at my house even on Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Dr Balzan was called to present his testimony by Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco’s lawyers, headed by former judge Philip Sciberras.

He confirmed he and Dr Zammit Dimech were partners in a law firm and he had taken part in Dr Busuttil’s campaign for the election of PN deputy leader.

However, he had never discussed the impeachment motion against Judge Farrugia Sacco with Dr Busuttil and Dr Zammit Dimech had relinquished his post in the law firm as soon as he was appointed minister, he said.

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