The Malta Independent 12 December 2018, Wednesday

Veteran lawyer argues significance of Great Siege monument should not be infringed

Wednesday, 26 September 2018, 09:51 Last update: about 4 months ago

Veteran lawyer and former politician Joseph Brincat has weighed in on the issue of the removal of a memorial to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. For months now, activists have been placing flowers, pictures and candles at the foot of the Great Siege monument in front of the law courts, only to have them removed by cleaners overnight.

The matter is now the subject of a Constitutional case filed by civil society activist Emmanuel Delia, who is claiming the removal breached his fundamental rights.

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But this morning, Brincat filed an application in the acts of that same Constitutional case asking to be admitted as a party to it and arguing that “Emanuel Delia cannot expect that his right is greater than that of the undersigned and many other Maltese, as had been established through official declarations under a multitude of administrations about the Great Siege monument.”

The monument in question has been in place since 1927, a masterpiece by Maltese artist Antonio Sciortino, erected to honour the memory of the thousands who died in the great siege of 1565.

Brincat noted that in 2010, the then deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg had described the monument as one of national importance as well as signifying the “great victory for the safety of Europe at the time.”

Malta is a signatory to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe, Brincat pointed out, which stipulates that every country must take legal steps to protect its architectural heritage and monuments. Article 4 of the convention grants States the right to take steps “to prevent the disfigurement, demolition or dilapidation of protected properties,” with reference to monuments, Brincat said.

“The undersigned submits, besides all this, that he wishes to rebut with his right to freedom of expression that public spaces are also regulated by the State and not capriciously for the use of an individual as he sees fit and who if not allowed to, says he has no freedom.”

Cultural heritage is owned by all citizens, Brincat argued, saying that consequently, they had a “right of cultural possession” over the monument which “must not be infringed by the pretext of someone who wishes to change and denature its significance.”

Brincat said he could bring a “great number” of Maltese citizens who wanted the monument to remain as it was.

 

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