Civil society group Repubblika and the relatives of two migrants who died at sea in April, filed a judicial protest claiming that the Attorney General’s inaction was “seriously prejudicing” the investigation into the migrant deaths. 

The protest was filed earlier this week after two letters by the protesting parties, dated June 6, highlighting various shortcomings in the proces-verbal of the inquiry, drawn up by Magistrate Joseph Mifsud, had gone unheeded.

In those letters, Repubblika had pointed out certain “serious shortcomings,” and had called upon the Attorney General to send back the records of the inquiry to Magistrate Mifsud, so that further investigations could take place in terms of law. 

The 450-page inquiry found no evidence to substantiate claims that Prime Minister Robert Abela or brigadier Jeffrey Curmi had caused the death of migrants left adrift at sea for days before they were returned to Libya on Easter weekend.

The civil society group had also requested a copy of the testimonies given by the migrants before the court-appointed expert, together with the recorded testimony of Clyde Caruana and Neville Gafà, an integral part of the inquiry. 

Yet, two weeks down the line and in spite of this being a matter of public interest, the Attorney General had not taken the necessary action. 

The urgency of the situation became all the more pronounced after it emerged that some of the surviving migrants, ferried back to Libya on board the Dar al Salam 1, appeared to have given a different version of the incident at sea, contrasting with the testimony supplied by the crew on board that vessel. 

This, doubtlessly, meant that the inquiry needed to continue, said the protesting parties, stressing that the Attorney General had a duty and not discretion in sending back the records to the inquiring magistrate.

The Attorney General was bound to do so in terms of law and any delay on his part could “seriously prejudice” the investigation, with possible loss or even “deliberate destruction” of vital evidence. 

Such an “anomalous silence” on the Attorney General’s part indicated a lack of accountability and impartiality that ran counter to the Code of Ethics governing the public service, said the protesting parties, calling upon the Attorney General to take all necessary action. 

In May, the same parties had filed another judicial protest against the prime minister, the home affairs minister and the armed forces commander about their failure to rescue the migrants.

Twelve migrants died before the group they formed part of was picked up by a fishing boat. The migrants' boat had allegedly been in Malta's search and rescue region for several days and the fishing boat was directed by the Maltese authorities. 

Fthawi Tesfamichael Welday and Asfaha Letenugus Amelesom, brother and sister of two of the deceased migrants called on authorities to pay damages over the death of their relatives, reserving the right to take further action at both local and international level unless their request is met.

Lawyers Paul Borg Olivier, Andrew Borg Cardona, Eve Borg Costanzi and Joseph Ellis signed the judicial act. 

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