Updated at 2.36pm
Chief Justice Emeritus Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici has passed away aged 88.
Known as ‘Ġoġo’ and the elder brother of President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, the Cospicua-born judge occupied several key national posts throughout his life.
He was appointed judge in 1988 and later chief justice in 1990.
Between 1992 and 1998, he served as Judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
He was nominated chairman of the Law Commission in 1999 and chairman of the Commission for Press Ethics from 2001 to 2009. He was chosen to represent Malta in the European Study Group on Civil Law from 2004 to 2009. He was president of the Chamber of Advocates from 1978 to 1983 and president of the Casino Maltese for almost 15 years.
Also renowned in the field of sports, he was president of the Malta Football Association between 1968 and 1982. Originally, he was a delegate for St George’s FC on the MFA council.
He also served on the UEFA Disciplinary and Control Commission (1970-1982) and the UEFA Appeals Board (1982-1984), as well as the World Cup Appeals Board (1982).
He was also Malta’s chess champion in 1955.
In an opinion in Times of Malta in December 2016, Ray Mangion, the university’s head of Department, Legal History & Methodology, wrote that Judge Mifsud Bonnici cherished three personal achievements.
“First of all, he was the initiator of a motion in the Chamber of Advocates, countenanced by Sir Anthony Mamo that induced the Bench in 1965 into reaching a unanimous agreement so that all judicial causes would start according to appointments, and end in the shortest time. When he was elevated to the judgeship in 1988, he issued a circular to all advocates to clarify and explain that he would follow such a system. He managed to decide over 1,000 cases in a couple of years.
Saddened by the passing away of Chief Justice Emeritus Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici. A man of great integrity, a mentor on rule of law and love of life. His wisdom and charm will be missed.
— Adrian Delia (@adriandeliapn) February 22, 2019
“Secondly, he was the proposer and redactor of the constitutional amendments that set up the Commission for the Administration of Justice in 1994. He was its first vice-president.
“Thirdly, he was instrumental in excluding any judge from every temptation to become head of State. He was the first chief justice to persuade Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami into establishing that the president of the courts would not automatically be made President of Malta in the latter’s absence.”
Judge Mifsud Bonnici, who was also was very active in the media following his retirement, was married to Maria née Cremona and they had three daughters – Josette, Marie and Anna.
The Institute of Maltese Journalists extended its condolences saying Judge Mifsud Bonnici, saying he helped local journalism safeguard the ethical principles on which serious and professional journalism is based.
Judge Mifsud Bonnici served as chairman of the Journalists’ Ethics Commission for eight years.
The Nationalist Party said Judge Mifsud Bonnici had given a great service both to the country and at a European level.
He would be remembered as a person of integrity and defender of human rights.
The Malta Football Association said his dedication and love of Maltese football was not only reflected by his tenacity and determination during his 14-year tenure as president of the association but also through his continued attendance for all international home matches at the National Stadium, even up to the recent UEFA Nations League games.
His loyalty and commitment to Maltese football would serve as an example and lasting legacy of true support and devotion to the game he led during some very challenging years for the association.
The Tumas Fenech Foundation for Education in Journalism said that although his greatest contribution was in the legal field, even on international bodies and in sport, he also made an outstanding contribution in drawing up the Code of Ethics and then interpreting it in practice as chairman of the Commission for Press Ethics.
The Chamber of Advocates recalled the utmost respect with which Judge Mifsud Bonnici, who led the chamber for several years, was held.
He continued to attend Chamber events even when advancing age and frailty had made it challenging, they noted.
“We have not only lost a stalwart of the profession but a giant and constant point of reference. He loved the profession and the profession loved him”.
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