Updated | Prime Minister to meet Caruana Galizia family over public inquiry concerns

Joseph Muscat will meet journalist’s family after returning from next week’s UN General Assembly

The Prime Minister will be meeting the Caruana Galizia family the week after the next
The Prime Minister will be meeting the Caruana Galizia family the week after the next

Updated at 4:48pm with government statement

The Prime Minister has agreed to a request by the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia to meet to discuss their concerns over the members of the board of the public inquiry appointed to determine whether the journalist’s murder could have been prevented.

Both government sources and the Caruana Galizia family have confirmed that the intention is for the meeting to take place, reports said.

Joseph Muscat will be attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, with the meeting expected to be held once he is back in Malta the week after the next.

The public inquiry, which was announced by the government on Friday night, is to be presided over by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, and will also be composed of constitutional expert Professor Ian Refalo and forensics expert Anthony Abela Medici.

Shortly after the announcement, however, the Caruana Galizia family requested to meet Muscat over concerns about the board’s composition.

Matthew Caruana Galizia, writing on Facebook this morning, elaborated on the concerns, asking how Refalo, “a lawyer defending the interests of Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman”, could be a part of the inquiry.

He also said Abela Medici’s qualifications were completely inadequate for the purposes of carrying out the inquiry.

NGO Repubblika also cast doubts on the suitability of the members of the board earlier today.

PN leader Adrian Delia subsequently called on Muscat to accede to the Caruana Galizia family’s request for a meeting, saying it was essential that the whole truth emerged from the inquiry, leaving no doubts as to what happened.

No criticism levied against inquiry's terms of reference - government

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, the government acknowledged that comments had been made on the members of the public inquiry’s board, but noted that no criticism had been directed towards the inquiry’s terms of reference.

“The government takes note of comments made on the persons occupying the role of Chairperson and Members of the independent public inquiry appointed on Friday by the Prime Minister,” the government said.

“Firstly, the government notes that no criticism was made with regards to the terms of reference.”

The government went on to defend its choice of members of the inquiry board.

“With regards to Mr Justice Emeritus Michael Mallia’s role as court-appointed expert in the compilation of evidence proceedings following the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, this does not interfere with his role as Chairperson of the Inquiry. In fact, Mr Justice Mallia was appointed as expert upon the consent of all parties involved,” it said.

“Professor Ian Refalo’s appointment was criticised solely due to his role as a professional lawyer. The right to access to a lawyer and the right of a lawyer to practice his or her profession are cornerstones of the rule of law, and this does not impede a lawyer’s judgement. Professor Refalo is well known for his integrity and is a point of reference for the legal profession in Malta. That being said, lawyers are governed by a Code of Ethics.

“With regards to the current role of Dr Anthony Abela Medici as Commissioner for NGOs, it has to be stated the Voluntary Organisations Act provides for important safeguards of security of tenure for this post. Therefore, the claim that the Commissioner for NGOs is dependent on government is incorrect.”

Regarding the Caruana Galizia family’s request to meet with the Prime Minister, the government confirmed that “contacts are ongoing for the meeting to take place accordingly.”

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