Caruana Galizia murder inquiry: Family and government reach agreement on new names, terms of reference

Former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro will join former judge Michael Mallia to lead the independent public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder • Nine months to conclude its work

Retired judge Michael Mallia (top), Judge Abigail Lofaro, and former Chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino will carry out an independent public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia
Retired judge Michael Mallia (top), Judge Abigail Lofaro, and former Chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino will carry out an independent public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Two members of the public inquiry board tasked with probing the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia have been replaced in agreement with the family, the government announced.

Former judge Michael Mallia has been retained as chair of the inquiry board but he will now be joined by former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and sitting judge Abigail Lofaro.

Said Pullicino and Lofaro took the place of veteran constitutional law professor Ian Refalo, and forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici.

The Caruana Galizia family had objected to the presence of Refalo and Abela Medici on the initial board announced last September, insisting the former had a conflict of interest, and the latter’s expertise were irrelevant to the inquiry.

Read the terms of reference below:

Government had accepted to meet the family and its legal representatives and after several meetings, agreement was reached on the new board members.

The government statement said agreement was also reached on the terms of reference of the public inquiry.

Among the issues the inquiry is tasked to look into is whether the State did enough to protect the journalist and whether the murder could have been prevented in any way. The inquiry has been given nine months to conclude its work.

The inquiry will be passed on to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General but will also be made public. If the board sees the need to redact certain parts of the inquiry report, the family will still have access to the full version, however they will be bound not to divulge the contents in public.

The statement said that Refalo and Abela Medici had retracted their acceptance to serve on the board in view of this agreement.

“As a sign of goodwill during the talks, the relative oath requested by law prior to the commencement of the inquiry was not administered to any of the members of the Board,” the government said.

It also noted that in light of the fact that Judge Lofaro is a sitting member of the judiciary, consultations were held with the Chief Justice to mitigate any negative effect on her pending caseload.

“The terms of reference of the board of independent public inquiry have also been fine-tuned in the light of the discussions between the Caruana Galizia family and the government,” the statement said.

Meetings leading to this agreement were attended by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici and Attorney General Peter Grech from the government side, and lawyers Joseph Zammit Maempel and Therese Comodini Cachia, and members of the Caruana Galizia family.

Repubblika reaction 

Civil society group Repubblika have welcomed the government’s decision, but have insisted that this is “nowhere near the arrival on the road to justice”.

“We have lived through 25 months of delaying tactics and we needed 25 months of protest by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family, by civil society and by the international community before the government agreed to implement what the law required from the very first day,” the statement read.

The civil society group also said that if they were to slight slack their vigilance and pressure, the government would do anything to conceal the truth.

“There is no doubt the government wishes for the protests demanding justice to stop. This has been the government’s wish for 25 months now,” they said.

The group also called for people to join them at the protest and vigil which will be held in Valletta tomorrow.

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