Prime Minister Robert Abela has asked Speaker Anġlu Farrugia to reconvene Parliament on Friday morning to discuss the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry report, which he received on Thursday.

The government published the report, which concluded that the state should be held responsible for the journalist's 2017 assassination.

The inquiry had to establish whether the state may have prevented the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

According to rules governing public inquiries, the panel must first give it to the government, specifically to the Office of the Prime Minister, who must table it in parliament within five working days.

Then the report is handed over to the victims, in this case the Caruana Galizia family, who also can review it.

But in a letter to the Speaker (see pdf link below), Abela said that although he was only required to table the report in Parliament, he felt that more should be done and that it should be debated as soon as possible.

So he was asking Farrugia to reconvene Parliament on Friday morning at 9am for a sitting that would not include parliamentary questions or a vote, with debating time being distributed equally between the government and the opposition.

Abela also wrote another letter to Opposition leader Bernard Grech (see pdf link below), who on Wednesday wrote to Abela calling for the government and the opposition to work together on the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry conclusions.

The Prime Minister said in his letter to Grech that there was no doubt that the positive changes taking place would be stronger if they had everyone's support and partisan politics were left out of them.

The inquiry was presided over by retired judge Michael Mallia along with former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro.

Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in Bidnija, in October 2017, and the government gave in to pressure to hold the inquiry in July 2019.

Then prime minister Joseph Muscat had initially resisted the calls, saying that the attorney general had advised against holding an inquiry during court proceedings against three men charged with the murder. 

The government, however, gave the go-ahead after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in June 2019,  overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for the government to establish “at the earliest opportunity, within three months, an independent public inquiry in order to ensure fulfilment of its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

There was initial disagreement between the Caruana Galizia family and the government on the composition of the inquiry board and the terms of reference of the inquiry.

Following a meeting between the family and Muscat in October 2019, changes were made by the government.

Among other things, the original terms of reference said the inquiry would look into whether the state had effective deterrents and criminal investigative powers in place.

It also laid out that the inquiry would investigate whether the state was able to avoid a de facto state of impunity through the frequent occurrence of unsolved crimes.

But the terms were then widened, with the inquiry asked to also establish if the state “caused” a real immediate risk to Caruana Galizia’s life.

The inquiry’s sittings started in December 2019 when the members of the family were called to testify. The inquiry has since heard scores of witnesses, including investigators, politicians and journalists.

The inquiry heard accounts of the murder scene and how the journalist had been threatened and hounded prior to the murder. Investigators also described how the murder investigation proceeded.

The probe questioned witnesses on possible motives for the assassination.

Muscat appeared before the inquiry for some five hours, starting his testimony by lashing out at the inquiry board for having, in his view, gone beyond their terms of reference.

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi refused to answer questions, insisting he was not involved in the murder. 

Former chief of staff Keith Schembri also testified, admitting that he knew Yorgen Fenech was a person of interest in the murder around a year before his arrest.

Murder plot middleman Melvin Theuma spoke about how Fenech was fed information by both Schembri and investigator Silvio Valletta.

In March, the inquiry heard that Fenech donated money to the Nationalist Party and was also given stories about the party to leak to rival media, according to former PN executive Pierre Portelli. 

Last December, Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted that,  with the inquiry already having been given a time extension because of COVID-19, it should conclude its proceedings by a new deadline of December 15.

But the inquiry judges responded that they were prepared to carry on, even without compensation, until they were satisfied that all work had been satisfactorily carried out.

The judges declared that they would not accept any undue pressure or interference curtailing their brief.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.