Lino Cauchi’s brother says family vindicated by ruling over State's failure in murder investigation

Murdered accountant Lino Cauchi's brother speaks for the first time since a court awarded the family compensation for the State's failure to properly investigate the murder

Lino Cauchi went missing in 1982 and his dismembered body was found in a Buskett well in 1985
Lino Cauchi went missing in 1982 and his dismembered body was found in a Buskett well in 1985

Joe Cauchi, brother to Lino Cauchi, has spoken publicly for the first time since a court found the State responsible for failing to investigate his brother’s murder.

In an interview with sister newspaper Illum, Joe Cauchi said that the court’s words when handing down its sentence were significant and couldn’t be ignored.

“Half the population, including members of the family, did not even believe that such a horrible case could have had political interference,” he said.

Last month, Judge Francesco Depasquale awarded Lino Cauchi’s heirs €615,000 in compensation after concluding that the State failed to properly investigate his murder.

Cauchi went missing in February 1982 and his dismembered body was found in a well in Buskett in November 1985. Nobody has ever been charged with the murder.

While his murder is shrouded in mystery, many suspect that people in high places had something to gain from Lino’s murder. Indeed, a magistrate had real suspicion that police officers may have been involved.

One of the main suspects in his murder was Piju Camilleri, a developer from Luqa and the righthand man to former Labour minister Lorry Sant. Camilleri was responsible for issuing building permits in the late 1970s and 1980s. He had been indicted along with others, including Lorry Sant, over corruption by extorting land from developers seeking permits to build.

Lino Cauchi was Camilleri's accountant and had been present for a stormy meeting with Camilleri and other developers just two months before he disappeared. A private agreement drawn up by Lino to settle a dispute between Camilleri and another businessman could never be fulfilled because it went missing when Lino disappeared.

Camilleri was only arrested and interrogated in 2001 when police reopened the Cauchi murder investigation. Camilleri has always denied any involvement in the murder and police found no concrete evidence against him.

Joe Cauchi said that the suspicion of interference or blackmail in his brother’s murder was always there. “The strong suspicion was that there were those who were trying to hinder investigations, and there wasn’t just pressure on the government during the first years, but there was also pressure on subsequent governments years later, or blackmail,” he told Illum.

He noted that there were intimate and compromising photos of parliamentary members that were tabled in the House by former Minister Lorry Sant. “He had a way of acquiring certain information with which, it seems, he could blackmail people.”

Joe said that his worry was that there were threats to authorities or powerful people, which led to investigations not being carried out properly. But this was always just a suspicion, he added. “At the time, it wasn’t so bad for a minister to interfere where he shouldn’t.”

But now the court judgment awarding Lino's heirs compensation has vindicated the family's belief that investigations were never carried out seriously, leading to crucial evidence being lost.