The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

OPM says discussions with CoE 'ongoing’ as countdown to public inquiry ticks away

Sunday, 25 August 2019, 10:00 Last update: about 27 days ago

Discussions with the Council of Europe "are still ongoing,” the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday informed The Malta Independent on Sunday about the long-called for establishment of a public inquiry into the death of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, a week earlier, had told this newsroom that the government was still in the process of seeking the attorney general’s advice as well as other ‘external advice’ to ensure that it did not do anything that could damage any ongoing investigation or procedure in court.

The minister, however, did not specify what the content of those discussions entailed or who they involved.

Calls for a public inquiry have been ongoing since Caruana Galizia’s assassination on 16 October 2017, from activists as well as the victim’s family.

On 27 June, the Council of Europe imposed a three-month deadline within which the inquiry was to be established. That window closes on 27 September.

Whatever the contents of those discussions, they will most certainly centre on the terms of reference and composition of the public inquiry.

Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s Rapporteur on ‘Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges’, had welcomed the Maltese government’s undertaking to carry out a public inquiry into the background to the murder of the prominent journalist. 

He specified, however: “This inquiry should be conducted by a truly independent panel chaired by a retired or international judge and including trusted representatives of civil society with no political or government links.”

He has also insisted that the inquiry “should concentrate on how this assassination could have been prevented, how similar murders can be avoided in the future and what needs to be done to ensure that cases of high-level corruption such as those disclosed by Daphne Caruana Galizia are properly investigated without journalists having to risk their lives.

“Carried out in this way, it will not impinge on the ongoing criminal investigations against the suspected killers in detention and the organisers and instigators of the crime who are still at large.”

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