Repubblika insists public inquiry into journalist's murder must retain full independence

Civil society NGO Repubblika reacts to statements made by Prime Minister Robert Abela and government Whip Glenn Bedingfield, after the two expressed reservations over the public inquiry’s workings

The public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder was forced on the Maltese government after a damning report endorsed by the Council of Europe
The public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder was forced on the Maltese government after a damning report endorsed by the Council of Europe

Civil society group Repubblika have insisted it will do anything in its power to ensure the independence of the public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Repubblika's reaction comes following comments by Prime Minister Robert Abela and Labour Whip Glenn Bedingfield, expressing reservations over the inquiry.

In comments to MaltaToday Abela admitted that he holds certain reservations over the terms of reference for the Caruana Galizia inquiry.

Abela, who recently extended the inquiry’s mandate till December 2020, commented that he had his own doubts on the way it is being carried out.

“I think the inquiry is an experiment that I have certain reservations about on the way the inquiry is failing to keep to the terms of reference given to it,” he remarked.

The Labour Whip also took to Facebook to criticise the inquiry and insisting it has become “politicised”.

“The inquiry was allowed to turn into a political exercise. The aim of the inquiry is to establish facts, not conjectures that are prolonging the process and leading to extension requests. If they were to concentrate on their terms of reference there would be no need for further extensions, unless their requests are due to ulterior motives,” Bedingfield said.

L-Inkjesta pubblika li qed 'tinvestiga' jekk l-assasinju ta' Daphne Caruana Galizia setax kien evitat mill-gvern għandha...

Posted by Glenn Bedingfield on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Repubblika said comments by the two amounted to threats to the inquiry’s independence.

“The inquiry will look into what government should have done or didn’t do to prevent the murder, and what government should have done or didn’t do following the murder so that the truth is revealed. That is why it is necessary to have the inquiry independent from government,” the NGO said.

It stressed that no time limit should be imposed on the inquiry, so that all the necessary individuals take the stand, and all necessary evidence is presented.

Reacting to Bedingfield’s statements that the inquiry has become politicised, the NGO said that the investigation is looking into wrong doings by government and the governing party, and so political ramifications are expected.

“If evidence shows that a journalist was murdered to serve the partisan interests of the Labour Party, the public inquiry must be allowed to establish such facts,” Repubblika said.

The inquiry was set up late last year after Malta succumbed to pressure from the Council of Europe. A first attempt to set up the inquiry, faltered when two of the three members nominated by the government were rejected by the Caruana Galizia family citing conflicts of interest and lack of expertise.

Eventually, after prolonged talks between then prime minister Joseph Muscat and the family, the government retained retired judge Michael Mallia as head of the inquiry and appointed chief justice emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro as members. Said Pullicino and Lofaro took the place of law professor Ian Refalo and retired forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici.

The inquiry has been hearing the testimony of a wide range of people, including Cabinet ministers and government functionaries.