The parents of Jean Paul Sofia, who was killed in a building collapse last December, blamed their son's death on inaction by state entities as well as those responsible for the construction site’s development.

In an open letter following the prime minister's dismissal of a call into the 20-year-old's death, the parents again urge for a public inquiry, insisting that identifying state failures and making recommendations did not fall in the remit of a magistrate’s inquest, which is already ongoing.

They said the circumstances in which Jean Paul died were "horrific".

"He died buried under a collapsed building amid stone, bricks, and fresh concrete. It took fifteen hours to find his body and extract him from the debris.

"This was no accident occurring as a result of a natural disaster. This was as much the result of inaction by state entities, and administrative, regulatory and legislative failure, as it was the result of actions of persons involved in the site’s development."

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

Times of Malta revealed in December how the government land on which the private factory was being built is leased to an alleged human trafficker, Kurt Buhagiar.

His business partner, Matthew Schembri, has faced his own accusations of criminal wrongdoing in connection with two “hitmen” allegedly hired to assault his ex-wife’s father-in-law.

On Tuesday, the opposition tabled a parliamentary motion urging the government to launch a public inquiry into the collapse.

Speaking to the media earlier this week, Robert Abela said a public inquiry could disrupt rather than help the search for justice.

He instead urged inquiring magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia to conclude the process “without further delay".

Abela drew parallels to the inquiry into the death of Miriam Pace, which he said was concluded in just over a month.

'Magistrate’s inquest not capable of identifying state failure'

On Friday, Sofia's parents insisted that justice for their son did not begin and end with the prosecution and possible conviction of those who were allegedly criminally liable for his death.

"Full justice for Jean Paul also means an inquiry into whether state authorities or representatives failed in their obligation to safeguard his life and failed to take preventative measures to protect him and others from the risk of loss of life and physical injury.

"The Prime Minister has compared our son Jean Paul’s case with that of another victim. Despite the inquest held by the magistrate under criminal law for the latter case, and despite persons being prosecuted for the victim’s death, state authorities have failed to learn any lessons from her death and to apply them in preventing real risk to life and injury."

A magistrate’s inquest, they added, was not capable of identifying state failure, nor administrative, regulatory and legislative gaps, and therefore could not make recommendations for the elimination of the risk to life and injury at construction sites.

If that was the case, they said, not only would Jean Paul still be alive, but many others would also not have suffered injury.

Sofia's accident was as much the result of inaction by state entities as it was the result of the actions of those involved in the site’s development.

"We need to know who is criminally responsible for our son’s death, but we recognise that it would be counterproductive for us to pressure the magistrate responsible for inquiring into criminal responsibility to act hastily. What we expect from the magistrate’s inquest is thoroughness.

"While we want to see criminal justice served in a timely manner, calls for hastiness are futile and capable of prejudicing the seriousness of the process."

The parents reiterated their call to Abela to appoint a board for the holding of a public inquiry into the circumstances of Jean Paul’s untimely death.

As the head of government it fell upon him to initiate an objective inquiry into whether Sofia’s death was preventable had there been timely action by authorities, adequate regulation and legislation, and adequate and efficient processes and procedures in place, they insisted.

"A public inquiry carried out by competent, independent and impartial people, into the administrative, regulatory and legislative gaps, inaction or failings which may have contributed to Jean Paul’s death, can help save the lives of others."

Without public inquiry, Jean Paul’s death would have been in vain

They also noted Abela had publicly acknowledged that more regulation was needed.

Without an independent and impartial public inquiry capable of summoning authorities, state representatives, and stakeholders to testify, and tasked with inquiring whether there were any administrative, regulatory and legislative shortcomings, and with making recommendations, Sofia’s death would have been in vain.

"Our son’s death is not a partisan issue. His death, together with the death and injury of others on construction sites, clearly shows that there are systemic failures.

"Public entities are reasonably expected to have been aware of such failures, and ought to have taken the necessary measures to prevent loss of life and injury.

"Only a public inquiry can provide us with answers it is our right to have and with the satisfaction of knowing that future deaths will be prevented. A magisterial inquest cannot do this, and it is incorrect to suggest otherwise."

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