Edwin Grech, whose daughter, Karin, was killed by a letter bomb in 1977, suggested yesterday that there was a group of people behind the heinous crime.
Speaking on Net TV’s Evidenza last night, Prof Grech, who was the real target of the letter bomb, said he had information that the explosive device had been planned by fourth- and fifth-year medical students who hired a criminal to make the bomb that was delivered by a carpenter with missing fingers.
If substantiated, the theory would break new ground in the yet unsolved murder of the teenager who had opened the small parcel addressed to her father thinking it was a gift having been just three days after Christmas.
When approached with the information communicated by Prof. Grech – the programme is recorded – former police officer Charles Demicoli, who had investigated the case for several years, said he believed the murder was the work of one person. The main reason why the crime had not been solved, he added, was because that person never spoke up.
“I think it was done by one of the students. I think he did it alone, all by himself and that’s why it hasn’t come out. If there were... (more people in-volved), as the professor is saying, somebody would have spoken up by now. Some crimes are solved because people talk and, in this case, nobody ever spoke,” Mr Demicoli said, echoing a theory that has been repeated over the years.
During the programme, hosted by journalist Dione Borg, Prof. Grech said had been told that the plan – aimed at him – had been concocted by a number of medical students. They then hired a criminal bomb expert and the explosive device was delivered by a carpenter with missing fingers.
The detail about the missing fingers is significant because forensic tests had only turned up very faint finger prints.
Prof. Grech said he had communicated all this to the police who could verify the information with a person he pointed out to them and who was present when he was given the information.
He said he was also informed that when the Medical School was closed down (at the time, doctors employed by the government were on strike and Prof. Grech had come from abroad to assist in the national health service) a lawyer who was involved in politics offered his office to medical students to use as a meeting place. The lawyer was not aware what was being discussed, Prof. Grech added.
During the programme he said he had little hope the case would be solved and felt abandoned by the police. He spoke of a “hidden hand holding information”, insisting that the case had not been solved due to political interference.
Although Mr Demicoli, who retired from the police force in 1981, did not have a particular suspect in mind, he said that during investigations he had searched the houses of various students.
“They had the know-how to make a bomb... I went into their houses... and in certain places I found workshops where you could produce anything of the sort,” he recalled.
The students were never interviewed because when investigations started they had left Malta to continue their studies abroad because the Medical School was closed as a consequence of the doctors’ strike.“This is just my suspicion. It does not necessarily mean that it is correct but I believe it was only one person who did it,” he insisted. Testifying in 2008, Police Inspector Chris Pullicino, who is now handling the case, said the investigation was concentrated on a group of people who were final-year medical students at the time of the incident.
In a statement yesterday, the police said “all information that came to the knowledge of the police in this case, including the information referred to by Prof. Grech himself, has been thoroughly investigated”.
The trail of death
The case dates back to August 1977. Prof. Grech was working as an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant in the UK when doctors in Malta were taking industrial action following disagreement between the government and the Medical Association of Malta.
A main bone of contention was a two-year housemanship imposed on new doctors before getting their warrant. Medical strikes followed and the Labour government retaliated by locking strikers out of hospital.
The medical course was also affected and students were forced to study abroad.
The government asked Prof. Grech to return to Malta to head the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at St Luke’s Hospital. He agreed to do so for the duration of the industrial dispute in the best interest of patients. As a result he was labelled a strike-breaker.
On December 28, 1977, a parcel was delivered to his home. His daughter, in Malta from the UK for the Christmas holidays, opened the large brown envelope that contained a small, pen-box shaped parcel in Christmas wrapping. It exploded in her hands.