Ever since the Chief Justice began receiving reports of inappropriate and even corrupt behaviour by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, the Chief Justice refused to take action and told the persons coming forward that he would only take action if they testified under oath. No lawyer had acceded to this request because no lawyer wanted to risk creating enmity with a magistrate who would judge their clients.
This barrier of fear was broken yesterday with a testimony by lawyer Matthew Brincat who testified under oath among many other things that Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech explicitly asked a defendant in her court to admit to the accusations against him in exchange for a lighter sentence before the evidence of the defense was even presented. The lawyer claimed that the Magistrate even approached his client in the corridors of the court when the client was on his own and without his lawyer in presence.
Judge Aaron Bugeja who is hearing the case looked stunned as he heard the testimony and this story will be covered in the morning papers. A number of lawyers have recently made a show of discontent in her court as they attended a court sitting where lawyer Edward Gatt challenged her handling of Keith Schembri’s mobile phone.