Bernard Grech made a last-ditch attempt on Wednesday at convincing PL counterparts to vote for a public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.

Sofia, 20, was killed in a building collapse on a Corradino construction site.

The Nationalist Opposition filed a motion in Parliament calling for a public inquiry. That motion, to be voted upon on Wednesday evening, has been amended by the Labour government.

The amendment removes any reference to a public inquiry, urging a speedy conclusion to the ongoing magisterial inquiry instead and insisting that the government was after “full justice” for Sofia and his relatives.

PN MPs wanted to present another motion amending the government's amendment for the motion to be almost identical to their original one. This request was denied by the Speaker who said the PN's amendment was dependent on a hypothetical result of a future vote.

He said that such an amendment should come once the original vote is taken. 

In an "address to the nation" on Net TV on Wednesday morning, Grech called the vote "a historic" one.

"Every MP has a choice between voting for truth, justice and the wellbeing of the weak (iż-żgħir), or voting to curb the truth and protect the powerful (il-kbir)," he said.

And despite Isabelle Bonnici's (Sofia's mother) pleas and efforts, the government persisted in its stubbornness, he added.

The building collapse site at Corradino. File photo: Jonathan BorgThe building collapse site at Corradino. File photo: Jonathan Borg

"The PN will vote in favour of justice so that Sofia's death would not have been in vain," Grech said.

He said a public inquiry would not only flag shortcomings by the administration and the authorities, but also ensure no other person died at the workplace.

"This is my last appeal, the PN leader said, reiterating his call for national unity on the matter. 

Transparent, open public inquiry 'critical step to delivering full justice' - civil society

In a statement in the morning, 13 civil society organisations joined in the appeal saying that regardless of the outcome of the criminal investigations and the magisterial inquiry, without a public inquiry that questions the circumstances of Jean Paul’s death, more people will be killed or injured on construction sites.

They said that these deaths and injuries can be prevented if the Maltese State learns lessons from Sofia's death.

"The questions that must be asked include whether Sofia’s death could have been prevented; whether there were and are systemic and administrative failures that are contributing to fatalities and injuries on construction sites; and how action can be taken to prevent such fatalities and injuries," they said.

They added that a transparent and open public inquiry is a critical step to delivering full justice for Sofia and his family, and to identify all the changes that Malta needs to make to prevent future deaths.

"A public inquiry does not duplicate or disrupt a magisterial inquiry. The processes are complementary and both are essential to deliver the full justice that Jean Paul Sofia and his family deserve," they said.

The 13 organisations said; "We stand with Isabelle Bonnici and John Sofia, Jean Paul’s parents, and the 18,000 people who signed Isabelle Bonnici’s petition calling for a public inquiry.

"We remind members of parliament that their oath of office binds them to serve the public interest and not their party’s.

"Without a public inquiry into Jean Paul Sofia’s death, other lives are being left in danger.

"We urge our Parliamentarians, most especially Prime Minister Robert Abela, to do the right thing today – vote in favour of a public inquiry to ensure no other lives are lost in vain."

The statement was signed by aditus, the Anti Poverty Forum Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Integra, Jesuit Refugee Services, Kopin, Moviment Graffitti, NWAMI International Malta, OASI Foundation, Repubblika, SOS Malta, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, and Victim Support Malta.

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