Caru­ana Gal­izia lawyers rec­om­mend pro­ceed­ings against PM over pub­lic in­quiry

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

In the event that the gov­ern­ment of Malta does not agree to in­sti­tute a pub­lic in­quiry into the as­sas­si­na­tion of jour­nal­ist Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia, her fam­ily’s lawyers have rec­om­mended the in­sti­tu­tion of pro­ceed­ings in the Mal­tese courts to force the Prime Min­is­ter’s hand.

The Bri­tish civil lib­er­ties spe­cial­ist solic­i­tors, Bhatt Mur­phy of Lon­don, has also rec­om­mended that the case should also go to the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights, if that fails.

The ad­vice comes af­ter an ex- change of cor­re­spon­dence with Malta’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral over the fam­ily’s re­quest for a pub­lic in­quiry. The firm wrote to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral on Fri­day: “It is our Opin­ion that Malta is act­ing un­law­fully in not in­sti­tut­ing a Pub­lic In­quiry into the cir­cum­stances of Ms Caru­ana Gal­izia’s as­sas­si­na­tion. “If it per­sists in this il­le­gal­ity, we ad­vise that court pro­ceed­ings are is­sued in Malta to com­pel the Prime Min­is­ter’s com­pli­ance with Ar­ti­cle 2 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights and if nec- es­sary there­after in the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights.”

More­over, the firm threw cold wa­ter on the as­ser­tion by the Prime Min­is­ter that such an in­quiry would over­lap with crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions: “Any de­gree of over­lap­ping ev­i­dence can eas­ily be man­aged by the Chair af­ter its ini­ti­a­tion. This is a mat­ter for an in­de­pen­dent Chair to man­age, not the very State which fails to be in­ves­ti­gated for its po­ten­tial fail­ures.

“It would be un­law­ful for Malta to pre­vent the Chair from un­der­tak­ing his/her vi­tal role by seek­ing to block or throw into the long grass the ini­ti­a­tion of a pub­lic in­quiry on the pur­ported ba­sis that they are pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of any crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings. The Chair can en­sure that no prej­u­dice is caused by the Pub­lic In­quiry to any par­al­lel crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings.”

Bhatt Mur­phy lists four main con­cerns over de­vel­op­ments con­cern­ing the case in Novem­ber re­gard­ing ad­her­ence to Ar­ti­cle 2:

“First, the fam­ily were not in­formed of any break­throughs or de­vel­op­ments in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion; learn­ing only of these claims via me­dia re­ports of the Min­is­ter’s (Michael Farrugia on Ital­ian tele­vi­sion) and of those un­named ‘top in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ (who are re­port­edly close to crack­ing the case once and for all as re­ported in one sec­tion of the me­dia).

“Sec­ond, if the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has made progress in this re­spect it is ob­vi­ously of con­cern that such a devel­op­ment would be leaked to the me­dia.

“Third, if the Min­is­ter is privy to sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion this raises con­cerns given that there may be mat­ters to be in­ves­ti­gated con­cern­ing mem­bers of the same cab­i­net.

“Fourth, un­der­stand­able ques­tions have been raised re­gard­ing the tim­ing of ‘sud­den news that the po­lice are close to crack­ing the case’ be­ing made pub­lic.”

Ac­cord­ing to the firm: “A cen­tral ques­tion re­mains to be an­swered by the Pub­lic In­quiry: whether the Mal­tese au­thor­i­ties knew or ought to have known of, or in­deed posed, a real and im­me­di­ate risk to Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia’s life.

“An Ar­ti­cle 2 com­pli­ant in­ves­ti­ga­tion is re­quired to ex­plore that ques­tion. It is clearly im­por­tant not to pre­judge the answer, which re­quires a full, fear­less and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“This is pre­cisely why an Ar­ti­cle 2 com­pli­ant Pub­lic In­quiry into whether Ms Caru­ana Gal­izia’s life could have been saved is so ur­gently re­quired.

“The stark fact that not a sin­gle politi­cian or gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial has been in­ter­viewed re­gard­ing Ms Caru­ana Gal­izia’s as­sas­si­na­tion over a year later by ei­ther the po­lice of the mag­is­trate un­der­lines the ur­gent need for the ini­ti­a­tion of a Pub­lic In­quiry so that its Chair can en­sure that any and all rel­e­vant ev­i­dence re­gard­ing any state com­plic­ity or ne­glect is pre­served.

“It is likely that the In­quiry will con­sider sys­temic is­sues re­gard­ing the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, as­sess­ment and res­o­lu­tion of risks posed to Ms Caru­ana Gal­izia’s life, as dis­tinct from is­sues of crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is an­tic­i­pated that some wit­nesses may over­lap be­tween the Pub­lic In­quiry and any crim­i­nal trial; how­ever, this can eas­ily be ad­dressed by the Chair when de­cid­ing how best to se­quence the var­i­ous phases of the in­quiry.

When it comes to the prospec­tive In­quiry it­self, and how it should re­late to the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the firm states: “The re­cent judge­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court [in which As­sis­tant Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Sil­vio Val­letta – the hus­band of a min­is­ter of cab­i­net was re­moved from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion] un­der­lines the im­por­tance of a Pub­lic In­quiry be­ing al­lowed to pre­serve ev­i­dence rel­e­vant to its Terms of Ref­er­ence, free of po­lice or other state in­ter­fer­ence. The po­lice or other state agen­cies must not be al­lowed to in­ves­ti­gate them­selves.

“The pur­pose and Terms of Ref­er­ence will be dis­tinct from and wider than any crim­i­nal trial.”

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