The Malta Independent 18 October 2018, Thursday

Valletta local council to discuss motion to remove Caruana Galizia memorial today

Helena Grech Tuesday, 13 February 2018, 08:59 Last update: about 9 months ago

The Valletta local council will today be discussing a motion put forward by Labour Party councillor Ray Azzopardi calling on the council to take action over the “illegally placed” makeshift monument commemorating slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Opposite the law courts lays the Great Siege monument which is dedicated to those who fought in the battle. Since the brutal assassination of Caruana Galizia, who was savagely blown up in a car bomb attack just metres away from her Bidnija residence, members of the public have placed pictures, flowers and candles in front of the Great Siege monument.

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Many say that it has been placed there to act as a reminder that those involved must be brought to justice. Currently three men are accused of carrying out the attack, but the identity of those who commissioned the murder remains a mystery.

Azzopardi, whose motion was backed up by fellow PL councillor Mario Camenzuli, said that the national monument is not a “personal grave”.

He 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) not exceeding three thousand and five hundred euro (€3,500)"

In comments to The Malta Independent, Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli had explained that the monument is not within the local council’s remit, but rather government has to take a decision.

Speaking in his personal capacity, however, he said the monument was an important tribute to the journalist and should stay.

Controversy erupted over the monument, with Labour councillors wanting to clear the site from flower and pictures, the Civil Society Network calling for the site to be safeguarded and planning to apply for a permanent monument and V18 chairman Jason Micallef objecting to that plan.

Valletta councillors will be discussing the motion as the final item on today’s agenda.

Two weeks ago, a woman was filmed clearing out the makeshift monument in front of the Great Siege monument, causing outrage for some while others applauded the move. The following day, members of the public showed up with new flowers, candles and pictures.

Many drew a comparison with the Charlie Hebdo temporary monument which was erected in Paris after terrorists gunned down cartoonists and other staff from the French weekly satirical newspaper.

It had been desecrated a number of times since the memorial was set up in January 2015, however it had always been cleaned up and restored. Parisian authorities then decided to plant an Oak Tree with a commemorative plaque placed in front as a memorial for all those people who tragically lost their lives through terrorist attacks.

 

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