Government tells Caruana Galizia family’s UK lawyers that legal opinion contains ‘incorrect information’

Replying to legal opinion sent on the family’s behalf by the law firm Bhatt Murphy, the government said the police could hardly be expected to give a 'running commentary' of their investigations

Daphne Caruana Galizia's family wrote to the British High Commission in August requesting a full public inquiry into her murder
Daphne Caruana Galizia's family wrote to the British High Commission in August requesting a full public inquiry into her murder

The Maltese government, through the Attorney General, has responded to lawyers representing the Caruana Galizia family, who wrote to the Malta's High Commission to the UK calling for a full public inquiry into the journalist’s murder.

The BBC reported last month that in their letter the family lawyers’ claimed that the government had failed to fulfill its “investigative duty” under the European Convention for Human Rights.

The opinion was prepared by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jonathan Price of Doughty St Chambers, together with Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy.

Murphy said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had been given till 31 August to reply, and that if he refused to open a public inquiry, the family would commence legal proceedings in Malta and perhaps ultimately in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

READ MORE: Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family want full public inquiry into murder

In a statement issued on Saturday morning, the government said it wanted to make it clear that it assumes its responsibilities, as dictated by the European Convention of Human Rights with outright seriousness.

The government told the lawyers that the legal opinion received was being “actively considered” and that it was, for the time being, only providing an interim reply.

“We are disappointed though that an Opinion by such an esteemed chambers contains a number of unsubstantiated claims, baseless innuendo, and incorrect information. It is regrettable,” reads the letter.

In it, government noted that the magistrate leading the inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder has “unfettered discretion and freedom”, adding that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has stated publicly that he, “and the Malta Police, are free to go wherever the evidence takes them – without fear of favour”.

“Our judiciary is independent and impartial.”

Furthermore, the it said that the investigation is one of the most “resource intensive” investigations in the history of Maltese law enforcement.

“As you rightly pointed out, three suspected perpetrators have been charged, and the investigations in to those others who may have been involved continues at pace,” the government said.

“Significant resources are still being utilised in this case from both the Malta Police and Maltese Security Services, but I would not expect them to provide a running commentary in the public domain.”

Moreover, the government said Maltese authorities were “working closely” with international law enforcement bodies, pointing out that the Executive Director of Europol had “publicly clarified the ambiguous statement made by her predecessor about international liason. “I bring this to your attention because this is something your client has raised in the past.”

Finally the government expressed his disappointment at the fact that the firm considered the government to be hostile to the Caruana Galizia family.

“We have done nothing but work diligently with international law enforcement partners since her tragic murder and work assiduously to track down and bring to justice those responsible. Naturally there is frustration about how long this is taking, but this is not abnormal in complex investigations such as this."

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