Nearly 1,700 magisterial inquiries remain pending in Maltese law courts

The number of pending inquiries stands at 1,698 according to figures tabled in Parliament by Justice Minister Jonathan Attard in response to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Jerome Caruana Cilia

Nearly 1,700 magisterial inquiries remain unresolved in the Maltese Law Courts, some dating back to 1979, according to figures tabled in the House by Justice Minister Jonathan Attard.

The figures were disclosed in response to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Jerome Caruana Cilia.

As of this current year, the number of pending inquiries stands at 1,698.

The figures indicate that there were 186 cases initiated in the current year that are still pending, along with the 574 cases from, 275 cases from 2021, and 172 cases from 2020 that are also still unresolved.

Between 2010 and 2019, there are a total of 446 pending cases. Additionally, there are six cases pending since 2009, one since 2006, and four since 2005.

Furthermore, there is one pending inquiry from each of the years 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, and 1979.

A magisterial inquiry can only be launched after receiving a request from the police or from a private citizen.

The inquiry is then assigned to whoever is the duty magistrate on the day of the request. This works on a roster system.

In Malta, the use of juries is limited to criminal trials in the Criminal Court for criminal offences which exceed the original competence of the Court of Magistrates. The bill of indictment is drawn up by the Attorney General as the prosecutor before the Criminal Court.

The disclosure of the figures comes on the heels of a letter from Prime Minister Robert Abela to the Chief Justice regarding the “unacceptable” delay in finalising the magisterial inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.

Sofia was killed in a construction site accident last December, after a three-storey building he was working at collapsed during construction works. Five men - three Albanian, a Maltese and a Bosnian were rescued by members of the Civil Protection Department.

Magistrate Marseann Farrugia is conducting an inquiry into the incident.