Here’s the problem with Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech. In Malta, we are accustomed to looking up to the judiciary as if they are infallible, so it is easy for us Maltese to gloss over the abusive behaviour of a magistrate when we have this preconceived bias. Unfortunately, Donatella Frendo Dimech, whom I hardly have the respect to address as “Magistrate” any longer, is tarnishing the judiciary’s reputation and status.
Here is a blatant case of bullying and favouritism to the accused where Donatella Frendo Dimech humiliated an FIAU official and locked her up in the court’s cell. The magistrate had no legal reason to do so. The defence was pressing the FIAU official to reveal details of an ongoing investigation on Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman because they were somehow related to their current money laundering case, yet after the FIAU official refused to disclose any details, the magistrate forced the official to answer the inappropriate questions by bullying her and locking her up in a cell.
I also took the trouble to go through Malta’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The FIAU has a wide range of powers and also an executive obligation to keep its information and investigations secret from the public, so I do not understand why and how Donatella Frendo Dimech could bully an FIAU official to discuss sensitive details on an ongoing investigation in a courtroom and in the presence of defendants accused of money laundering and their lawyers.