Professor of Criminal Law and Politician

Born in Cospicua, the son of Giuseppe and Maria née Cordina, Carmelo was a brilliant orator and a very popular politician known as ‘Il-Gross’. He was educated at the Lyceum and the UM where he graduated in law in 1922. As president of the Comitato Permanente Universitario, Mifsud Bonnici was responsible for the organization of the students’ strike in May 1919.

In 1922 Mifsud Bonnici joined the PDN and was co-opted as member of the Legislative Assembly in 1923 on the judicial appointment of Dr (later Sir) Luigi Camilleri of the PDN. He was elected in the 1924 (with 807 votes), 1927 (1,048), and 1932 (1,728) elections, representing the 4th district. In September 1926 Mifsud Bonnici was appointed minister for the Treasury when Sir Ugo Mifsud became prime minister. After the PN victory in 1932, Mifsud Bonnici was appointed minister for the treasury and the police and served until November 1933, when the Constitution was suspended.

In 1926 Mifsud Bonnici was instrumental in the fusion between the UPM and the PDN in what later came to be known as the PN. Mifsud Bonnici later became its first general secretary.  Between 1927 and 1930, while in opposition, Mifsud Bonnici was vociferous in favour of Maltese rights. Following a ruling by the speaker of the Legislative Assembly on the power of the House vis-a-vis the Archbishop, Mifsud Bonnici’s journalistic criticism brought him about his committal to Corradino Prison for breach of privilege of the Assembly. Between 1936 and 1939 he was a member of the executive council.

In 1938 Mifsud Bonnici became professor of history of legislation and in 1940 professor of criminal law in the RUM.

Mifsud Bonnici was also an eminent scholar, poet, and author. He was editor of Patria, In-Nazzjon, and La Voce del Popolo. He also founded and edited the Mid-Day Views, Mid-Day News, and Il-Poplu. He published several books. Extracts from contributions in learned journals of a judicial, literary, or historical nature by Mifsud Bonnici which are of special interest include Intorno alla testimonianza dell’Imputato (1938), Lord Byron in Malta (1933), Sir Walter Scott in Malta (1934), Leone Tolstoi (1934), Wolfgang Goethe (1937), Alessandro Manzoni (1937), Pinto de Fonseca (1937), Corporativismo Maltese Medievale (1938), and Del Comune Maltese (1938).

Mifsud Bonnici married Mary Ross in 1928 and they had two sons, Giuseppe, a chief justice and Ugo, the fifth president of the Republic of Malta.

This biography is part of the collection created by Michael Schiavone over a 30-year period. Read more about Schiavone and his initiative here.

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