The number of pending magisterial inquiries stands at 1,698, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard has told parliament.

One of those inquiries goes back to 1979, according to information tabled in reply to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Jerome Caruana Cilia.

One inquiry is also still pending from each of the years 1992, 1991, 1990, 1988 and 1989.

Four pending inquiries date from 2005, one from 2006, six from 2009, 15 from 2011, 44 from 2016, 88 from 2017, 128 from 2018 and 157 from 2019.

Another 172 launched in 2020 are still under way, while the figure is 275 for 2021, 574 for 2022 and 186 so far this year.

A magisterial inquiry can only be launched after receiving a request from the police or from a private citizen. The inquiry is then assigned to whoever is the duty magistrate on the day of the request, according to the roster system.

The disclosure of the figures comes on the heels of a letter from Prime Minister Robert Abela to the Chief Justice about the “unacceptable” delay in finalising the magisterial inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia in a construction site collapse last December.

Sofia’s mother Isabelle Bonnici has since been campaigning for an independent public inquiry to be held into the incident, supported by the Nationalist Party, but the prime minister has turned the request down.

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