The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

After promises of justice, Raymond Caruana’s family has not even been contacted

Rachel Attard Sunday, 4 December 2016, 10:30 Last update: about 3 years ago

Jimmy Caruana - the brother of Raymond Caruana who was 26 years old when he was shot dead on 5 December 1986 at a reception marking the opening of the Nationalist Party club in Gudja – has expressed disbelief that after 30 years no one has been brought to justice and that the chapter remains open.

Moreover, in an interview this week with The Malta Independent on Sunday Mr Caruana recalled how prior to the 2013 election during a visit to Gudja, then Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat had told the Caruana family, "All I can say is that the Labour Party is not protecting anybody. Justice needs to be done in this and other cases such as the Karin Grech murder. It is only then that wounds will be healed once and for all. We need to close this dark chapter.”

Jimmy Caruana Dec2016 from The Malta Independent on Vimeo.

Asked if Jimmy himself or any other family member have been contacted by one of the four Police Commissioners the country has had over the past three years, he said, “No, never. No one has contacted me or anybody else. Our greatest disappointment is that after all these years no one has been brought to justice and we feel that his death was treated like that of a farm animal.”

Jimmy (above) , however, remembers the day his brother was murdered as though it happened yesterday.

“I think about my brother and what exactly happened every day. At home I have his photo and before I go to sleep I stand in front of it and speak to him. I was obsessed about him, even though I was much older than he was. We were inseparable and always together because we use to like the same things. We used to see each other every day, either he would come to my house to see what my wife Dorothy had cooked, or I go to his workshop and see what he was doing. His main job was that of a carpenter but he use to do a lot of voluntary work in our community. Helping people was something he cherished a lot.”

Jimmy told this newsroom this week that one of Raymond’s habits when having lunch was that he would read the newspaper and once, the year in which he was murdered, he told his mother Katarin Caruana, “Mum, one day I would really like my picture to be in the newspaper.”

“I will never forget that moment,” Jimmy says.

“It was 5 December 1986, a very cold, wet night, when I heard the doorbell ring. My family and I were all asleep.”

Jimmy and his wife looked down from their balcony and saw a number of police and CID officers.

“I turned to my wife and asked her, ‘Are they going to arrest me?’ I remember rushing down the stairs, opened the garage door and invited everyone in because it was raining cats and dogs. At that point I also saw then PN Members of Parliament Joe Cassar and Jimmy Farrugia. I asked them what was wrong and at first they were quiet and reluctant to speak.”  

That night the Nationalist Party had opened the new Gudja club and his brother Raymond was there with some friends having a beer. One of the MPs told Jimmy, “As you know, today we had the PN club opening and while we were there a Land Rover drove by with the usual Labour thugs and opened fire on the club and your brother Raymond was hit.”

As soon as he mentioned my youngest brother I flipped and told Dorothy to go straight to hospital. At that point the officer told me, “Do not go anywhere because they killed your brother.”

“I remember falling to the floor in a faint. I was the first family member to get the news and my wife had to go and give this horrible news to my parents and his fiancée Rita. I remember that when my father received the news, he ran to the village square and started shouting, Qatluli lit-tifel (They’ve killed my son). I never went to see my brother who lying in a pool of blood. The 13 bullets fired in the Gudja PN club’s direction had come from a Sterling submachine gun.

Raymond was to have been married in May 1987 and he was looking forward to that day but he never made it. When the bullet hit his face, it passed through a main artery and he bled to death.  He died on the spot.

“I can never forget 7 December, the day of the funeral, everywhere was packed: the mortuary, the roads and the Gudja parish church. I can still picture him lying in his coffin with the side of his face full of stitches. It was the side where one of the bullets had hit him.

“Three days after my brother was murdered then Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici (above), together with PL General Secretary Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Labour MP John Dalli and General Workers Union Anglu Fenech visited our parents to offer them their condolences.

Jimmy vividly remembers that just before they left, Dr Mifsud Bonnici had turned to his mother and said, “Katarin I am going to leave you but I am going to do everything in my power to bring people from abroad, even if I bankrupt the country to pay for it, to see that justice is done. I want the culprit to be caught.”

But what really happened is that an innocent person, Pietru Pawl Busuttil, a farmer and PN supporter, was framed for the murder.

Five months after Raymond’s death, on 9 May 1987, the Nationalist Party won the General Election. Jimmy says that the first phone call Dr Eddie Fenech Adami made was to their parents. He told my parents that “the election was held on Raymond’s birthday and he gave us the victory”.

Asked if the PN should continue to commemorate his death, Jimmy said, “Yes the party should keep remembering him because he was a martyr for liberty.”

But to this day no one has been convicted, which means that for 30 years someone has literally gotten away with murder.

Jimmy says, “I believe that the police knew who killed my brother but they were too scared to bring them to justice. I wish I knew who killed him because I will do everything in my power to bring the perpetrator of this brutality to justice.

“But over these past 30 years I was never asked by the police to testify, even though people were brought to court and gave contradicting testimony.”

In 2011 the relatives of Raymond Caruana had their compensation from the government more than doubled, on the basis of the mechanism employed by the courts for the compensation given to the family of Karin Grech. Both relatives were paid from the fund for victims of crime.

But, according to Jimmy, that money did not heal the wounds of either the Caruana family, nor the family of Karin Grech. 

Timeline

30 November, 1986: A PN mass meeting in Żejtun is blocked by police and Labour activists. Shots were fired and it was later determined that they were fired from a Sterling submachine gun.

1 December, 1986: A group of Labour supporters, who were on their way to Zejtun, drove past the PN’s club in Tarxien and sprayed it with machine gun bullets. At that time the club door was closed. One of the Labour supporters allegedly involved is Anthony Carabott (it-Toto). Once again it was established that the bullets were fired by a Sterling submachine gun.

5 December, 1986: Raymond Caruana together with other PN supports is in the PN’s new club in Gudja. The door was open because a party was being held. At around 11pm, a Land Rover drives past and 13 shots are fired. One of the bullets hits Mr Caruana in the main artery and he dies on the spot. It results that the shots were fired from the same machine gun used in Tarxien and Żejtun earlier that week.

6 December, 1986: Police question Anthony Carabott, Michael Spiteri and Edwin Bartolo.

11 December, 1986: Police raid the farm of Pietru Pawl Busuttil, a PN supporter, and say that they have found the submachine gun hidden in his farm. They charge him with Caruana’s murder. Later the courts find that Mr Busuttil was framed by the police. His lawyer is Prof. Guido de Marco.

24 December, 1990: Nicholas Ellul (iċ-Ċaqwes), identified as the owner of the Sterling submachine gun, is charged with Caruana’s murder. He was never arraigned because he died from an overdose in 2001.

3 February, 1997: Ġanni Psaila (il-Pupa) testifies in court that Karmenu Farrugia (il-Botom) had opened fire on the PN club in Tarxien. Mr Farrugia denies the allegation. Mr Psaila dies later that year in mysterious circumstances while robbing a bar in Birzebbuga.

28 December 2015: In an article published by GWU Sunday newspaper It-Torca, Anthony Carabott (it-Toto) wants an arraignment to clear his name in connection with the murder of Raymond Caruana.

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