The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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Watch - Public inquiry u-turn: PM Abela did well to change decision – minister

Thursday, 27 July 2023, 08:25 Last update: about 8 months ago

Semira Abbas Shalan and Sabrina Zammit

Prime Minister Robert Abela did well to change his mind on the Jean Paul Sofia public inquiry, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said Wednesday.

“I think it was the best decision,” Camilleri said in reply to questions by The Malta Independent.

On 13 July, the government voted against an Opposition parliamentary motion calling for the setting up of a public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia. The 20-year-old died when a building under construction crumbled in Kordin on 3 December.

His family embarked on a campaign to have a public inquiry look into the tragedy, with the Labour government, spearheaded by Abela, relentlessly rejecting the idea for six months, saying that a magisterial inquiry was enough.

But, four days after the vote was taken, on 17 July, the Prime Minister made what has been described as a colossal U-turn, saying that a public inquiry will be appointed. The report of the magisterial inquiry was concluded on 21 July.

Asked whether the PM’s decision to order a public inquiry was an insult to Labour MPs who had voted against the idea in Parliament earlier, Camilleri said that the change in the decision was explained by the Prime Minister.

“If this was the best decision, and I think it was the best decision,” Camilleri said, the Prime Minister “did well”. It was a gentlemanly and just decision to change at that particular moment, Camilleri said.

He said that the Labour parliamentary group met before the decision to order a public inquiry was announced, and “we are part of the decision and I think it was the right decision.”

Asked the same question, Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi was more circumspect in his answer, saying that the Prime Minister had explained why the decision to order a public inquiry had been made.

Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the situation has been explained “in great detail” as to what led to the reversal.

Was it an insult to the parliamentary group?

“The Prime Minister explained that it was a parliamentary group decision taken for the reasons the PM mentioned that day”, Zrinzo Azzopardi said.


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