Robert Abela confident Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry will end its work next week

The Prime Minister remains non-committal as to whether he will consider another extension to the Caruana Galizia public inquiry

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Updated at 2:14pm with PN leader Bernard Grech's statement 

Robert Abela is confident the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry will conclude its work by 15 December but remains non-committal on whether its term should be extended.

The Prime Minister said he preferred to wait and see whether the inquiry will finish its investigation in a week’s time.

“I am confident the inquiry will reach its conclusion by the 15 December… let us wait and see if they finish the job,” he said on Monday when asked whether he would give the inquiry another extension.

Abela said the extension he had given until the middle of December was suggested by the inquiry board itself and saw no reason why it should not conclude its work by then. He was taking questions after inaugurating refurbishment works at the national basketball pavillion in Ta' Qali.

The board originally had a nine-month term to conclude its work but requested an extension since the process was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Last October, the board said it would overstep the deadline if it felt the need to do so.

The public inquiry was set up last year after pressure from the Council of Europe. Judge emeritus Michael Mallia is heading the board, which also includes chief justice emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro.

The board was tasked with evaluating whether the State did enough to prevent Caruana Galizia’s murder and whether it fostered a climate of impunity.

The board has called numerous witnesses and has been criticised for going beyond its remit. Former prime minister Joseph Muscat lambasted the inquiry when testifying last Friday, saying it was more interested in scrutinising the current government than the workings of the State, spanning over the years.

Caruana Galizia was murdered on 17 October 2017 in a car bomb outside her Bidnija home. Three men were charged in December that year with planting and detonating the bomb that killed her. They are awaiting trial.

In November last year, businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested and charged with masterminding the assassination.

A fourth person, Melvin Theuma, was granted a pardon to tell all. Theuma was the middleman who Fenech used to contract the killers.

The compilation of evidence against Fenech is still underway.

Fenech’s arrest created a political crisis last year that led to Muscat’s resignation from prime minister after his former chief of staff Keith Schembri was implicated in the murder.

Large protests erupted in Valletta as people demanded Muscat step down.

Bernard Grech statement 

Taking to social media, PN leader Bernard Grech said that the PM's insistence on halting the inquiry was "shameful."

"If he were at all interested in the truth he would let the board work, free from political interference," Grech said.