‘AG should not be part of election court case’

‘AG should not be part of election court case’

Counting mistakes led to a bigger PL electoral majority, the PN holds. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiCounting mistakes led to a bigger PL electoral majority, the PN holds. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Nationalist Party yesterday argued the Attorney General should not be involved in a case in which it is claiming a breach of human rights after counting mistakes gave the Labour Party a nine-seat majority in the general election.

The Electoral Commission is requesting that the AG be called into the proceedings.

However, Therese Comodini Cachia, appearing for the PN, said its complaint was with the commission and not the Executive, to which the Attorney General was answerable.

The issue revolves around two mistakes in the counting process.

A packet of 50 votes for PN candidate Claudette Buttigieg (née Pace) was transferred to PN candidate Michael Asciak, who got eliminated resulting in the election of Labour’s Edward Scicluna instead.

In another blunder, 10 votes belonging to PN candidate Frederick Azzopardi went missing, helping Labour’s Justyne Caruana get elected.

The mistakes, which are not being contested, would not have made a difference as such human errors are taken into account through well-researched mathematical formulae, the electoral commission is arguing.

This is the second time the issue has been taken to court.

A PN request for a recount in the respective districts had been turned down by the Constitutional Court because Ms Buttigieg and Mr Azzopardi secured a seat in Parliament after extra seats were awarded to the PN in line with the proportional representation rule.

There was therefore no juridical need to recount the votes in the eighth and 13th districts as requested, the court had decided.

The current case is to determine if the mistakes led to a breach of human rights and, if this is established, for the court to offer a remedy.

In yesterday’s sitting, Dr Comodini Cachia said that the Attorney General was answerable to the Executive while the Electoral Commission was a constitutionally appointed body independent from the Executive.

Having the AG as part of the case would result in there being a conflict of interest, she argued.

Professor Ian Refalo, appearing for the commission, argued that the case filed by the PN was against the State because the commission did not have the power to give a further two seats to the PN.

Madam Justice Jacqueline Padovani gave the parties a week to make their submissions in writing and will hand down her decision in May when the case is expected to continue.

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