Robert Abela has written to the Chief Justice reiterating his call for a speedy conclusion to the magisterial inquiry into Jean Paul Sofia’s construction fatality in December.

The government released a copy of the letter sent hours after Labour MPs voted down an opposition motion calling for a public inquiry into the death, which would have looked into the wider circumstances surrounding the collapse of the building on public land. The decision sparked widespread protests and condemnation. 

Abela referred to his previous letter, also calling for a speedy conclusion to the inquiry, on April 13 and said parliament had now decided to join in the appeal for the criminal inquiry to be concluded so that those responsible for the incident will pay for their actions.

The opposition's motion was replaced by a government-amended version which removed any reference to a public inquiry and instead called for a speedy conclusion of the magisterial inquiry into the tragedy. It passed after MPs voted on party lines. 

Parliament, he said, had reiterated the appeal for such cases to be given absolute priority so that "a clear message" would be sent to society that such actions are not acceptable and that everyone should be made to pay for their actions.

“Today, the statutory term within which the inquest is required to close in accordance with the Criminal Code (60 days), has been long expired and it is concerning for the Government and Parliament that despite this, there is no public indication that this inquiry is being given a priority," he wrote to Chief Justice Mark Chetchuti.

He said he understood the exigencies of the work of the judiciary but felt that "more sensitivity needs to be shown in cases like these".  

Abela said he could not shy away from his duty as Prime Minister and was requesting the Chief Justice to ask the inquiring magistrate to do justice to the case and come up with her conclusions closing the inquiry without further delay.

In a statement just after Wednesday's vote, the Labour Party said justice had to be ensured and it was because of this that the PL parliamentary group voted so that whoever had criminal, civil or administrative responsibility would pay for their actions, including in front of the courts.

The vote, the PL said, was also encouraging the investigative authority to, as much as was legally possible, keep the family informed of any developments and to conclude the pending inquiry.

It also called for the recommendations in the Quintano report on the construction industry to continue to be implemented.

Jean Paul Sofia, 20, was killed when a building that was under construction in Corradino collapsed last December. Five other workers were rescued but Sofia was found dead under the rubble after a 14-hour search.


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