Daphne Caruana Galizia's family has officially objected to the government's imposed time limit on the public inquiry into the journalist's murder.

Earlier this week the inquiry board was told by Prime Minister Robert Abela that he is granting a one-time deadline extension to December 15.

According to the family, the board said that the new deadline is insufficient and a further extension will be necessary.

The journalist's heirs therefore filed a note of submission to the state-appointed board. They are insisting that the terms of reference for the public inquiry are clear: "it is within the state-appointed board’s remit, and not the government’s, to decide when its work is complete. If the board decides it needs more time to fulfil its remit, the deadline of the public inquiry is automatically extended".

The government's role, they added, was to provide the board with the necessary resources to complete its task, and to act on the recommendations of its final report.

Imposing restrictions on the board ran counter to the inquiry’s terms of reference and amounted to a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, they said on Friday.

'Arbitrary and unrealistic time limit'

During a sitting on Wednesday it transpired that the inquiry had filed a request to have its term extended to mid-December.

Judge Michael Mallia said the prime minister had replied saying he had no objection to the extension request. However, it seemed the extension was non-renewable. 

Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia objected, saying the inquiry needed plenty of time to organise testimonies, prepare written submissions and in the end draw up a final report. 

Judge Abigail Lofaro had additionally pointed out that the inquiry's present term was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council of Europe rapporteur and Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt also expressed his concern about the "arbitrary and unrealistic time limit". 

"The inquiry’s terms of reference set a discretionary time limit that may be exceeded as necessary for the proper fulfilment of its task. Only the inquiry itself can determine when its task is fulfilled. There is no suggestion that it has been inefficient – quite the contrary," he said, adding that the inquiry must be allowed to work without outside interference.


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