The Malta Independent 13 December 2018, Thursday

Public inquiry should determine if Caruana Galizia's murder could have been avoided - Delia

Rebekah Cilia Thursday, 6 December 2018, 17:12 Last update: about 6 days ago

Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia said we are not living in an normal country because the Minister for Justice could not talk about freedom of expression when he had done everything possible, on all occasions, to stifle civil society's freedom of expression.

Parliament this evening held an extraordinary session to debate a motion, moved by the PN, that calls for a public inquiry into the assassination and the resignation of the Attorney General Peter Grech and Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. The motion was presented as a private members' motion by Opposition leader Adrian Delia and MPs Karol Aquilina and Robert Cutajar. 

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Delia said that this evening the government had gotten lost and talked about everything but what parliament was proposed to discuss.

Speaking of the importance of life from conception to death, he affirmed that 'here we are talking about a person, wife, mother, someone who is part of us Maltese and Gozitans' so in no circumstance and for no reason should her death be justified.

"In this case the persona of Daphne Caruana Galizia represents freedom of expression," Delia said. "In a normal country you can express your opinion, with liberty and protection from government, institutions and authorities."

Delia said that protection should be provided no matter if one is in agreement or not with what the person is saying. In a democratic society it is not acceptable to silence those who we do not agree with.

Making reference to what Justine Caruana noted earlier, Delia said that he has sympathy towards her and her family as everyone suffers in politics. However, he said, the motion does not attack the person but quotes verbatim what the Constitutional Court involving Caruana Galizia's family and the Deputy Commissioner of Police Silvio Valletta had said.

The Constitutional Court had upheld a judgement ruling that the involvement of Valletta in the investigation breached the family's fundamental human rights.

Delia said that government was trying to depict the PN with its motion as trying to decide the case instead of the court. He remarked that however the Constitutional Court had been clear and unequivocal.

He said that the PN was not asking for another inquiry to do what is already being done. However, he said we are not living in a normal country because journalists are not killed in a normal country.

And if it does happen, that journalist are killed, as was the case in Slovakia, people including the prime minister resign. "This is what happens in a normal country where democracy reigns," Delia said.

The opposition needs to be the truth, to search for the truth because people have a right to know the truth, Delia noted. On this matter, the government should not oppose or amend the PN's search for the truth.

Stating again that the police commissioner and attorney general should resign, Delia said that they are being used by the government and were abdicating from their obligations.

Mentioning the murders of Raymond Caruana and Karen Grech he said these were times of a socialist government that had created an atmosphere of impunity. This government is doing the same, whereby even those in government who partake in a criminal acts can get away without any consequences.

Finally, Delia referred to the motion whereby the PN requested a board of inquiry into the murder case, which is independent from the police and government.

He said this was being done as 'we no longer have faith in the police commissioner'.

"What should be investigated?" Delia questioned. "Did our authorities know or could have known that Daphne Caruana Galzia would be murdered?" he continued.

Delia also asked what measures could have been taken for the murder to be avoided. The excuse government was putting forward was that Caruana Galizia did not want police protection.

Every citizen has a right for protection and the police should have protected her anyway, Delia insisted. The government and attorney general had the obligation to protect someone who was close to death, he said.

Delia said that although the government did not shoulder responsibility for the murder were they at least making sure it does not happen again.

Discussing the methodology behind the board of inquiry, Delia said the people on the board should be people with integrity and voted upon with a two thirds consensus. Furthermore, they should be given all the resources possible to work with but also a time limit for their remit.

Delia questioned why the government does not agree with this board, claiming that perhaps it wanted to keep the truth hidden.

The Opposition will be the voice of the people, the voice that finds the truth, Delia concluded passionately.

A vote on the motion and its amendments will be taken on Wednesday, according to parliament procedure.


Ministry for Justice, Owen Bonnici said it was sad and difficult to talk about someone who had died, especially in such a barbaric manner.

Bonnici said that Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese citizen and a mother and 'this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable' and such 'barbaric acts are not tolerable.'

He thanked the police forces and judiciaries who he said were doing their duties in the best way possible. He said these people, those that are investigating, prosecuting and judging all have a family and may be endangering their lives since this was such a 'hot' case.

Bonnici also said that he had to be careful what to say.

"When I was in opposition there were motions that we used to put forward and they would not be heard for a whole legislature," he said, adding that parliament had now evolved.

Getting to the cruz of the subject, Bonnici explained that for a magisterial inquiry to be launched the acts of the offence need to lead to more than three years in prison. He mentioned several cases when government was advised against launching a public (or administrative) inquiry if a magisterial one was ongoing.

Bonnici said this is the way things are usually done though he said that he would give the benefit of the doubt that there might be some cases were there was both a magisterial and administrative inquiry. 

He said that the PN claimed that an administrative inquiry should be done to investigate if the authorities knew something about the murder and did nothing. Whilst the PN are saying a magisterial inquiry could not investigate this, Bonnici contradicted that it could.

Stating again that a public inquiry should not be done in parallel he did not exclude that it would be done after the magisterial inquiry is concluded. Bonnici then listed a number of amendments to the PN motion presented today

PN MP and one of the lawyers for the Caruana Galizia family said that there were several 'levels' of masterminds behind the murder and not just one person.

Azzopardi said he was 'disgusted' at the fact that government thinks that people are stupid to accept that the PN motion should be rejected because a magisterial inquiry is ongoing.

A magisterial inquiry is by law one which is secret and even once it is concluded only the Attorney General is informed, Azzopardi explained. He called for a public inquiry which was not secret.

Furthermore, the magisterial inquiry does not have the remit to investigate the motif, to investigate if the police have enough resources and also if the authorities knew that a homicide was being planned, he said.

Azzopardi reiterated that the PN and the Caruana Galizia family want a public inquiry and claimed that the Government did not want this because they did not want the truth to be exposed.

"They say it shocked everyone, even tonight they are saying that we are together in this for the truth to be exposed," Azzopardi said about the government but continued to add that it is disgusting that PL MP and spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister could insinuate that Matthew Caruana Galizia could have killed his mother.

He said the Prime Minister did not censor these words adding "silence means consent."

Azzopardi also made reference to the face that the makeshift memorial to Daphne Caruana Galzia was cleared 193 times.

He also said that a month ago Castille was behind a spin saying that the masterminds were identified. This was not denied and furthermore the Ministry for Internal affairs spoke to foreign media saying that they were close to arresting those involved and the masterminds.

Azzopardi said this was stupid as it was discussing what was being done by our country's security forces.

PN MP Karol Aquilina said that in a country where the institutions work well the Opposition should not have to move such a motion. He referred to the legal advice given by the British law firm representing the Caruana Galizia family, saying that he could not understand why the government was refusing calls for a public inquiry. The Opposition then felt that it should take this request as its own.

The motion calls on Parliament to condemn the murder. But words are not enough. Half of this chamber wants action to be taken, the other half does not.

The motion also calls for the resignations of the AG and police chief for well-known reasons.

More importantly, it calls on Parliament to order the PM to appoint a public inquiry.

Aquilina said inquiries had been appointed for far less serious crimes, but the PM does not want a public inquiry to look into the murder of a journalist. European states have a duty to investigate crimes but also the shortcomings by the state that allowed that crime to happen. This was the most obscene murder to take place in Malta in the last 30 years, the MP said.

We need to know whether the measures taken were adequate or not, Aquilina continued. We had a situation where known criminals were roaming around, supposedly under surveillance by the authorities, and yet they managed to murder a journalist.

The public inquiry board should be made up of people of integrity, he said. The PM can choose the chairperson but the board should be approved by a two-thirds majority. The outcome of the inquiry should be made public. “It is clear that the government side if afraid of the truth,” Aquilina said.  

 

Government Whip Byron Camilleri said the rule of law in Malta works and we should have faith in the police, both Maltese and foreign.  He said there are already investigations underway – a criminal investigation and a magisterial inquiry.

The inquiry should take place, he said, and this was not a question of if but of when. “The government and the Opposition have a very different way of seeing things. The Opposition wants politicians to interfere in investigations. We want the institutions to work independently. Why the insistence by the Opposition to have politicians involved? This is a clear case of the Opposition putting the cart before the horse.”

Camilleri said the Opposition never believed in the police force. Just one day before the arrest of the three suspects in the murder, Adrian Delia had claimed that the police were nowhere near close to solving the case.

 At the start of the sitting, Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana said she would absent herself from the debate since she was mentioned by name in the PN motion. (the motion makes reference to the removal from the case of Deputy Commissioner Silvio Valletta, the minister’s husband).

Caruana said she would go home to comfort her children because of the unnecessary attention that the Opposition had brought on the family. The family, she said, had been living under police protection for the past year. “Both my husband and I work for the benefit of the country in different roles. My husband always carried out his duties to the best of his abilities and led to a result (of the investigation) on a scale never before seen in this country. We did nothing that can shame us or impinge on our integrity.” 

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