Key witnesses have still not been interviewed two months after police said they were investigating claims that a lawyer and other middlemen attempted to pay off the family of a 14-year-old girl who claims she was raped.

Early in October police said that investigations into the claims had been launched as soon as they were raised. But sources close to the family from Nadur confirmed that nobody had been interviewed.

Police were asked to give an official update on the investigation but no response was forthcoming by the time the newspaper went to print.

The approach on the family was revealed by The Sunday Times shortly after four men were charged with offences related to the rape of the girl early in October.

Brothers Peter Paul and Josef Said, were accused of raping the girl, while Mark Lorry Said and Peter Paul Debono were charged with her defilement. They are all under house arrest.

The girl's mother had said that a lawyer and close relatives of her daughter's alleged aggressors persuaded her family to sign a contract stating they would not testify in court in return for €7,000 in "psychological support" and a €23,000 guarantee pledging that the accused would not approach the girl.

The mother said she had signed the contract under intense pressure from the group, which included relatives of the Said brothers and a priest who acted as an intermediary, and out of fear of exposing the issue to the Gozitan community.

However, she regretted it immediately and together with her daughter, they forged ahead with the complaint.

On the day the men were charged, the girl's mother said another approach was made - this time by two different lawyers (one from Gozo and another from Malta) who said they wanted to "see if they could come to an arrangement" over the arraignment of the men. The woman immediately called a family acquaintance and the men left.

The issue was raised in parliament last week by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo, who asked Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici to reveal the names of the lawyers involved and whether any action would be taken over the family's claims.

The minister did not comment, saying that there were pending court proceedings.

The claims of interference were also raised by Chief Justice Vincent De Gaetano in a judgment imposing stricter bail conditions on the accused on October 9.

The Chief Justice said there seemed to have been "manoeuvres" by people who had an interest to see that the case does not reach the courts.

"It seems that, before the accused were charged in court, money changed hands in order for there to be withdrawal of the complaint (in respect of the accused bearing the Said surname)," the Chief Justice had said.

He had heard the prosecuting officer and the victim's mother testify in a request by the Attorney General to revoke bail.

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