Prime Minister appoints former judge to head public inquiry into Caruana Galizia murder

Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia will lead the public inquiry that also includes constitutional expert Ian Refalo and forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici

The government has launched a public inquiry into the assassination of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

In a statement, the government said that the decision reflects the government’s consistent position that there exists no difficulty in establishing a public inquiry once it is assured that such an inquiry does not undermine investigations. 

The inquiry will be headed by judge emeritus Michael Mallia. 

The inquiry will also be composed of former Dean of the Faculty of Law and constitutional expert Ian Refalo. 

Forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici will be assisting in the inquiry. 

The statement read that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has requested for the inquiry to be concluded within nine months. 

The commission will also be regulating its own procedure. 

“Government has engaged in technical discussions with officials of the Council of Europe to avoid that the public inquiry endangers the integrity of investigations and/or criminal proceedings which are already underway in this case,” the statement read. 

The government also cited reservations on the methodology used and the conclusions listed in the Resolution of of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“Yet, government has full respect towards the Council of Europe, and the work carried out over the past weeks is testament to the reciprocal respect between Malta and this important institution,” the statement read.

The inquiry's Terms of Reference are as follows:

1. To determine whether any wrongful action or omission by or within any State entity facilitated the death or failed to prevent it and in particular whether any State entity knew or ought to have known of a real and immediate risk to Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life at the time from the criminal acts of a third party and failed to take measures within the scope of its powers which, judged reasonably, it might have been expected to take in order to avoid that risk;

2. To establish whether the State had and has in place effective criminal law provisions and other practical means to avoid the development of a de facto state of impunity through the frequent occurrence of unresolved criminal acts and to deter the commission of serious criminal offences, backed up by law enforcement machinery for the prevention, suppression, investigation and punishment of serious breaches of the law;

3. To determine whether the State has fulfilled and is fulfilling its positive obligation to take preventive operational measures to protect individuals whose lives are at risk from criminal acts in particular in the case of journalists;

4. To conduct the inquiry in such a way as not to impede or compromise any criminal investigation or prosecution or its integrity;

5. The Inquiry shall be held in public but the Board of Inquiry may, where it considers it necessary, conduct particular hearings in camera in such a way as to protect the confidentiality of investigations and of information received in confidence both when the confidentiality of those investigations or information is protected by law and when the Board of Inquiry considers that in camera hearings are otherwise justified;

6. The Board of Inquiry shall have access to all information held by State entities and it shall act in accordance with the Inquiries Act and shall, subject to these terms of reference, regulate its own procedure on all matters including the question of access by the family of the deceased and by the public to the proceedings and acts of the inquiry.

7. The Board of Inquiry shall endeavour to conclude its work within a time frame of nine months without prejudice to the proper fulfilment of these terms of reference.