Updated | Public inquiry should determine whether enough was done to prevent Caruana Galizia's murder, Adrian Delia says

Parliament debates PN motion calling for the setting up of an independent inquiry into Caruana Galizia murder • Government does not exclude public inquiry after ongoing magisterial inquiry and criminal investigations are over

The Opposition wants an independent inquiry into the Caruana Galizia murder
The Opposition wants an independent inquiry into the Caruana Galizia murder
The Opposition wants an independent inquiry into the Caruana Galizia murder
The Opposition wants an independent inquiry into the Caruana Galizia murder

Updated at 7.30pm - The debate has ended

The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia not only destroyed a woman, a wife and a mother but also silenced a journalistic voice so important in a democracy, Adrian Delia said.

The Opposition leader was closing off Thursday’s debate in Parliament on a motion put forward by the Nationalist Party calling for a public inquiry into the journalist’s murder.

The vote on the motion and amendments put forward by the government and the Democratic Party will be taken on 12 December as per parliamentary procedure.

The PN motion also calls for the removal of the police commissioner and the Attorney General.

Read the PN motion here:

In an impassioned speech, Delia said the Opposition wanted to know whether Caruana Galizia’s “voice could have continued to shout” and this was why a public inquiry was needed.

The government has insisted that it did not exclude setting up a public inquiry but only after pending criminal investigations and the magisterial inquiry are over.

Delia said the public inquiry would have to determine whether enough was done to protect the journalist and prevent the murder.

He also accused the police commissioner and the Attorney General of being “tools in the government’s hands”, which is why the PN was calling for their removal.

A public inquiry was first requested by the Caruana Galizia family in light of court testimony several months ago that revealed how one of the men accused of the murder had been tapped by the Security Service in the months before the assassination.

Questions were raised at the time as to whether the police knew of the murder but did nothing to prevent it, an assertion flatly denied by the police and the Security Service.

In Parliament Delia rejected accusations by government MPs that a public inquiry would obstruct the ongoing criminal investigation.

“The government wants to silence the truth but even if this motion is defeated, we will continue to speak for truth and justice,” Delia said.

The Opposition leader offered his sympathy to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana, who at the start of the debate absented herself from the sitting (see below) because the motion mentioned her husband – Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta – and her.

Caruana said she would have to explain to her children that their father did nothing wrong.

Delia said he sympathised with Caruana’s statement but insisted the motion did not attack the individual but merely quoted from a constitutional court judgment.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici
Justice Minister Owen Bonnici

Legal advice against parallel inquiry

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, who put forward the government amendment, said that the legal advice given by the Attorney General was against the holding of a public inquiry in parallel with the criminal investigations.

He said the magisterial inquiry into the murder was still open and the police were still investigating the case to arrive at the people who commissioned the crime.

Three men have so far been charged with Caruana Galizia's murder. She was killed in a car bomb metres away from her home on 16 October 2017. The men executed the crime but the people who commissioned them are still at large.

PN MP Karol Aquilina
PN MP Karol Aquilina

Public inquiry with two-thirds majority

The Opposition motion calls for the setting up of an inquiry that would be approved by a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Presenting the Opposition’s motion in Parliament, Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina said the motion was calling for an inquiry board to be proposed by the Prime Minister but approved by Parliament.

The inquiry would have a six-month term to carry out an open-ended investigation into all aspects of the Caruana Galizia murder.

“The Opposition wants the inquiry to present its findings to the Speaker and the report published by the Clerk of the House because we have experienced other magisterial inquiries that are not fully published,” Aquilina said.

Aquilina said the Opposition had made its own the request by the Caruana Galizia family for the setting up of an inquiry that was independent of the government and the police.

"In a normal democracy no such motion would have been necessary because the assassination of a journalist would have automatically prompted an independent inquiry," he insisted.

Labour Whip Byron Camilleri
Labour Whip Byron Camilleri

Not a question of if, but when - Byron Camilleri

Government Whip Byron Camilleri said there already was a magisterial inquiry underway into the murder.

He was referring to the criminal inquiry led by Neville Camilleri that is still underway despite three people having been charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Byron Camilleri said the creation of a new inquiry was “not a question of if, but when”.

“Let us allow the criminal investigations that are still underway to conclude and then we can have another inquiry,” Camilleri added, insisting that the Opposition wanted politicians to act as investigators.

Camilleri said the Opposition’s motion was only intended to undermine the criminal investigation into the murder.

“We should offer all our support to the judicial and investigative authorities so that results are achieved,” Camilleri said, adding the government was not excluding a public inquiry at some stage.

PD MP Marlene Farrugia
PD MP Marlene Farrugia

PD proposes truth and justice commission

Democratic Party MP Marlene Farrugia said it was absurd to suggest, as the government was, that a public inquiry would undermine the ongoing criminal inquiry and investigation.

She said Caruana Galizia was killed after investigating corruption and money laundering by top government officials.

“We trust the investigative authorities. What we don’t trust is government interference,” Farrugia said.

She then presented an amendment to the proposed motion, calling instead for the establishment of a permanent truth and justice commission to investigate the murders of Karin Grech, Raymond Caruana and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The commission would be independent of the government, the Opposition and the police.

READ ALSO: PD proposes a Truth and Justice Commission to investigate political assassinations

Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana
Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana

Justyne Caruana absents herself

At the start of the sitting, Justyne Caruana asked to be absented from the debate since her husband and she were mentioned in the motion.

Caruana is married to Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta. A constitutional court last October ruled that Valletta should not be involved in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation.

The Caruana Galizia family had objected to Valletta’s presence by virtue of his marriage to the Gozo Minister and his role as a member of the FIAU board.

In Parliament Caruana said she wanted the democratic process to take its course. But she added that she also wanted to go home and comfort her children that their father did nothing wrong.

“I want to assure my children, who for the past year have had to live with a police escort because of the undue attention given to my family, that their father performed his job well and this led to results like no other. I want to assure my children that their father and I did nothing to be ashamed of and our actions were always correct in the best interest of the country,” Caruana said holding back tears.

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