Magistrate in fresh extension of Jean Paul Sofia inquiry; Abela summons parliamentary group

Magistrate Marsanne Farrugia has ignored pleas for a rapid conclusion of the Jean Paul Sofia inquiry and extended the term by another 60 days

Jean Paul Sofia’s mother, Isabelle Bonnici (Photo: James Bianchi/mediatoday)
Jean Paul Sofia’s mother, Isabelle Bonnici (Photo: James Bianchi/mediatoday)

Magistrate Marsanne Farrugia has extended the term of the inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia by another 60 days, MaltaToday has learnt.

Court sources have told MaltaToday the magistrate informed the Attorney General on Monday, she will take more time to conclude the inquiry.

Farrugia was the duty magistrate when 20-year-old Sofia was killed last December in a construction site collapse at the Corradino industrial estate. Magistrates have 60 days to conclude their inquiries but can extend the period by informing the AG.

The magistrate’s latest decision has ruffled feathers inside the Office of the Prime Minister with sources close to government saying Prime Minister Robert Abela has summoned an emergency parliamentary group meeting to chart out the next steps.

Abela has publicly criticised the magistrate for the delay in concluding the inquiry amid growing public pressure on the government to hold a parallel public inquiry. Abela twice wrote to the Chief Justice urging him to ensure the inquiry process is speeded up.

Government sources reported Abela being “angered” by the magistrate’s latest move.

“The Prime Minister believes that the magisterial inquiry is the tool that will deliver justice but he is uncomfortable having to shoulder responsibility for the delay and as a consequence appear as if the government has something to hide,” the sources said.

Abela has shunned calls by Sofia’s parents for a public inquiry, insisting the magisterial inquiry has unfettered power to delve into anything. The government last week even voted against an Opposition motion in parliament to hold a public inquiry.

READ ALSO: Watch the moment Jean Paul Sofia’s parents confront Labour MPs in parliament

But in the aftermath of the parliamentary vote, government MPs and ministers have received angry backlash from constituents, including the Labour grassroots.

The sources said the Prime Minister has summoned an emergency parliamentary group meeting to determine what steps could be taken next in view of the renewed extension in the magisterial inquiry.

The development comes hours before a vigil in Valletta’s Castille Square, organised by Sofia’s parents and friends.

There has been an outpouring of support towards the family and its request to have a public inquiry that looks into several aspects beyond the issues of criminal responsibility.

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