Politicians commemorate 41st anniversary of Karin Grech's murder

Karin Grech was killed by a letter bomb on 28 December 1977

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne paid tribute to Karin Grech, who was killed by a letter bomb 41 years ago today
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne paid tribute to Karin Grech, who was killed by a letter bomb 41 years ago today

Today marks the 41st anniversary since the murder of Karin Grech, with the tragedy being remembered today by people who paid tribute at the young victim's memorial in San Gwann.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, who laid flowers at Grech's memorial in San Gwann this evening, called the murder a "political one", and said that politics, which should be a mechanism to improve people's lives, can in certain circumstances lead to hatred, as had happened in this case.

He said Grech's father, Professor Edwin Grech, was a doctor who had been offering his services to the people, and ended up paying for this with his daughter's life.

Fearne added that although violence leads to pain, it could never win, since, in the end, good would emerge victorious.

Still no closure - PD

In a statement, Partit Demokratiku said that, after more than four decades, there was still no closure on the case.

“It is a pity that the PL and PN blocked PD’s recent amendment in Parliament which would have created a truly independent Truth and Justice Commission which would have focused on the unsolved political murders of Karin Grech, Raymond Caruana, and Daphne Caruana Galizia,” PD deputy leader Timothy Alden said in a press release.

"PD reaffirms its commitment to work for a society free of tribal politics and partisan hatreds. It shall continue to champion good governance, equity and a better Malta for all, regardless of affiliation."

Important not to forget - AD

Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Carmel Cacopardo  took part in the commemoration, also placing a floral tribute Grech's monument.

"The commemoration of such unfortunate events of violence is very important. It is important not to forget. We must keep in mind what violence and intolerance can bring about. The pain felt by the Grech family and by so many other families is the pain of the whole country," Cacopardo said.

"My presence at the commemorative event is a sign of AD's commitment against violence and intolerance. The way forward when there are differences of opinion is dialogue and discussion. The political process should be based on the principle of dialogue. Violence should never be seen as a solution in a functioning democracy."

PN MEP candidate Dione Borg also paid tribute at the monument. He appealed on Facebook for the investigations on the murder to continue, emphasising that justice was a fundamental principle in society.

Grech, the the 15-year-old daughter of gynaecologist Professor Edwin Grech, was killed on 28 December 1977, when she opened a letter bomb which had been addressed to her father.

The teenager had suffered severe burns across her body after the bomb, which had been concealed within a parcel that was delivered to the Grechs’ home, exploded. The parcel’s colourful wrapping had made her believe it was a Christmas present.

She succumbed to her injuries shortly afterwards, at St Luke’s Hospital.

The case became infamous as it remains unsolved, with its perpetrators having never been caught. A magisterial inquiry is still ongoing.

At the time of the murder, doctors at St Luke’s hospital were taking industrial action following a disagreement between the government and the Medical Association of Malta.

Prof. Grech, who was then working as an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant in the UK, had agreed to return to Malta to head the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department.

While doctors were locked out of hospitals during the strike, Karin’s father was labelled a strike-breaker, after agreeing to work during the industrial dispute.

He had also been socially excluded by doctors obeying the strike directives.

Despite there being no forensic evidence linking the bomb to the doctors’ strike, the dispute was widely blamed for the horrible murder.

Eight years ago the Civil Court awarded compensation of €419,000 to the Grech family. The court ruled the murder was politically motivated.

Speaking in 2011, Grech said he had information that the explosive device had been planned by fourth and fifth-year medical students who hired a criminal to make the bomb that was delivered by a carpenter with missing fingers. His claims, however, never yielded any suspects.

In 2017, the Grech family filed a judicial protest formally holding the Attorney General, the Police Commissioner and the Director General of Courts responsible for the disappearance of a crucial piece of evidence: pieces of the envelope which contained the explosive, which had apparently gone missing from the courts. However, it proved to be a false alarm.

The murder remains one of the most prominent political murders in Malta, alongside the killing of PN activist Raymond Caruana in 1986, who was gunned down while having a drink inside the Gudja PN club.