Parliament pays tribute to ‘hero’ Edwin Grech

Opposition leader says Karin Grech murder should inspire politicians to ensure they work towards ensuring justice for victims’ families

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

Parliament on Monday paid tribute to former Labour minister and father of murdered teenager Karin Grech who passed away at the age of 94 last week.

“For thousands he was a politician and a doctor. For a few he was an uncle and a father. For me he was my hero,” Edwin’s nephew and Opposition leader Bernard Grech told parliament.

Edwin Grech had returned to Malta in 1977 at the height of the doctors’ strike and was appointed professor and director of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at St Luke’s Hospital.

Socially ostracised by his medical peers for being a strike-breaker, Grech was eventually targeted in the most brutal of ways.

His 15-year-old daughter Karin was killed by a parcel bomb just three days after Christmas 1977, that was addressed to her father. The girl opened what was a brown envelope enclosed within a Christmas wrapped parcel. The bomb immediately exploded in her face, in front of her 10-year-old brother. She died a few moments later in hospital.

Former Labour Minister Edwin Grech
Former Labour Minister Edwin Grech

The opposition leader recalled the first few hours after Karin’s murder.

“It was a moment that many of us lost faith in politics, we felt betrayed by the state,” Bernard Grech said. “I remember my brother describing the scene of the accident, with my uncle holding her in a cloth, knowing full well she would not make it.”

The opposition leader said the former Labour MP never mentally recovered from that incident, saying he taught it was his fault.

READ ALSO: Edwin Grech, 94, passes away never to see justice done for daughter’s parcel bomb murder

“If you are listening, you should be ashamed,” Grech told the individuals behind the parcel bomb which killed Karin.

The PN leader said today’s politicians should learn from that chapter in Malta’s political history, to ensure justice is carried out with all victims of society.

“I think we as politicians should realise that when we try to hide the truth there are wounds which will never heal, behind that lack of justice there are families who remain hurt, who never find solace, because they know someone, somewhere did their utmost to hide that truth,” Grech said, in a subtle reference to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The Opposition leader also said Edwin Grech served as inspiration, having come from a working-class background.

“I saw him as the uncle who strived and distinguished himself. He gave me the impetus to realise that I could still make it,” he said.

Edwin Grech an inspiration to doctors of my generation – Chris Fearne

Health Minister Chris Fearne said Grech served as inspiration to doctors of his generation.

“He taught us, and inspired us in our profession,” he said. “Because Edwin and his friends chose to teach, the doctors’ association at the time issued a social boycott against him.”

Fearne also recalled how days after his daughter’s assassination, he still carried out his professional duties.

“He did not choose to lock himself in a room and contemplate revenge, instead he went to St Luke’s and gave birth to other infants, he went on to teach at the medical school,” the minister said. “He will not just be remembered among medical circles, he will remain immortalised in the country’s political history.”

Edwin Grech's funeral was held in San Ġwann
Edwin Grech's funeral was held in San Ġwann

Edwin Grech had unsuccessfully contested the election in 1987 with the Labour Party but was elected in 1992 and 1996.

He served as social welfare minister between 1996 and 1998.

Former Labour prime minister Alfred Sant had nominated Edwin Grech for president but the Nationalist government of the time had turned down the proposal.

Grech had served as dean of the faculty of medicine and surgery between 1979 and 1986 and also a member of the University of Malta’s senate and later the UOM council.

He had also served as an advisor and consultant in maternal and child health for the World Health Organisation.

Grech was born in Luqa on 27 September 1928 and was married to Pearl Bryant.

READ ALSO: Edwin Grech, father of murdered teenager Karin, laid to rest