Labour marks 42 years since unsolved murder of Karin Grech

Parcel-bomb that killed 15-year-old daughter of doctor who did not obey directives in 1977 doctors strike remains unsolved to this day

Karin Grech
Karin Grech

The Labour Party has marked the 42nd anniversary of the murder of Karin Grech, daughter of the strike-breaker and later Labour MP Edwin Grech.

PL president Daniel Micallef laid flowers at the Grech monument in San Gwann together with PL executives. “This wound is still open to this day, and for the family it is a wound whose pain persists every day. I wish for justice to be made in this case, as another cases,” Micallef said in a veiled reference to the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination. “As a people we must wish for justice to be made in all these cases, to start healing these wounds.”

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.

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