The Malta Independent 16 January 2019, Wednesday

Daphne's memorial: Valletta mayor rules council does not have jurisdiction over monument

Tuesday, 13 February 2018, 19:30 Last update: about 12 months ago

In his ruling on the motion calling for the removal of a memorial dedicated to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia from the Great Siege monument, Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli said that the monument itself does not fall within the council's remit, and thus the motion could not be accepted.

Labour councillor Ray Azzopardi had filed the motion, which was seconded by PL councillor Mario Camenzuli, asking for action to be taken over the "illegally placed" memorial. Azzopardi had quoted a section of the criminal code which read: "whosoever shall destroy, throw down, deface, or otherwise damage any monument, statue, or other object of art, destined for public utility or public embellishment, and erected by, or with the permission of the public authority, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from six to eighteen months or to a fine (multa)."


In what turned out to be a heated debate, Dingli based his decision - that the motion was invalid - on the Local Council's Act.

Mayor Dingli clarified that the Great Siege monument opposite the Law Courts, which has since last October served as a makeshift memorial for the slain journalist, does not fall under the responsibility or remit of the local council and therefore cannot be voted upon by the any local Council or councillors. According to the Fourth Schedule of the Local Council Act, the council does not have jurisdiction over the Great Siege Monument, he said.

Members of Daphne Caruana Galizia's family were present during the meeting.

A packed meeting room at the council saw members of the public from both sides of the argument raising their voices. One woman arguing against the memorial was even escorted outside until she calmed down after she stood up and began aggressively yelling during Marlene Farrugia's intervention.

A few persons present spoke against the makeshift memorial, backing Azzopardi's motion arguing that similarly, the national monument was dedicated to those who fought in the Great Siege, and not a "personal grave".  Others argued that if a memorial in memory of Cauruna Galiza was to be built, then it should be built in the place where she was murdered.

Others who commented at the council meeting included PD MP Marlene Farrugia and PN MEP David Casa. Members of Caruna Galiza family were also present including her husband Peter Caruna Galiza.

PN MEP David Casa said that the memorial is a message to the state, "that we have institutions that did not do their utmost to defend a journalist searching for the truth. Today we have a situation where three persons who allegedly killed her were arrested, but the people who decided to send the three men are still out there. The memorial is a spontaneous one, showing the anger the Maltese people have, and no councillor of any council will reduce the anger until those who ordered the assassination are caught." PD MP Marlene Farrugia remarked that everyone had the right to put down flowers and candles for the journalist whilst CSN member Manuel Delia appealed to the Valletta local council to allow people to exercise their right to freedom.

Vice Mayor, Christian Micallef, also reaffirmed the ruling stating that the law clearly indicated the such a decision was not under the competency of local councillors; adding that he believed the motion did not show solidarity with the family of Caruna Galiza.



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