An independent inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder would not obstruct criminal investigations but establish whether the journalist’s life could have been saved, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Thursday.
Speaking during a Parliamentary debate on a PN motion for an inquiry, Dr Delia said the Opposition wanted to know whether “her voice could have continued to speak out” and what measures could be taken to protect other journalists and activists.
During the three-hour debate, speakers from the government benches repeatedly insisted that the PN’s request would duplicate or even undermine ongoing magisterial and police investigations.
Government whip Byron Camilleri said that while an eventual inquiry was “a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’”, faith had to be shown in the work of the police and courts, which had already led to the arraignment of three men alleged to have carried out the murder.
Justice minister Owen Bonnici said the Attorney General’s legal advice was against holding a public inquiry in parallel with ongoing criminal investigations.
The justice minister also moved an amendment eliminating the calls for an inquiry and instead highlighting the work done by the government and institutions to solve the crime, and the need to avoid interference with police investigations, while “not excluding” a future inquiry.
However, closing the debate, Dr Delia said the government’s arguments were designed to obscure the truth, as his party was not proposing another inquiry into who commissioned the murder.
We want to know if her voice could have continued to speak out
He accused the Attorney General and Police Commissioner - whom the motion calls for the removal of - of being “mere tools” in the Prime Minister’s hands and of abdicating their responsibilities.
He said the government had created an “environment of impunity” where crimes such as the murder could take place.
The terms of the inquiry proposed by the PN include establishing whether the authorities were aware or should have been aware of an imminent threat to Ms Caruana Galizia’s life, and what measures could have been taken to prevent the murder, as well as those of others in her position.
The motion calls for a board of inquiry to be composed of people known “for their honesty and integrity” with the chairman appointed by the Prime Minister and confirmed by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament.
It says the inquiry report should be completed within six months, should be presented to the Speaker and should be published in full by the Clerk of the House.
A vote on the motion, including the government amendment, was deferred until December 12.
Earlier, MP Karol Aquilina, who co-signed the motion, said that the party fully supported the legal advice presented to the government on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family that an inquiry should be set up to establish whether the journalist’s death could have been prevented.
“This motion would not be required in a truly democratic country with functioning institutions,” Dr Aquilina said. “In a normal country it would be the institutions themselves initiating this inquiry.”
He said that while the whole Parliament claimed to condemn the murder, only half wanted to do something about it.
MP Marlene Farrugia moved amendments to the motion by the Democratic Party seeking to widen the inquiry into a Truth and Justice Commission, led by the Council of Europe human rights commissioner, with a remit encompassing also the murders of Raymond Caruana and Karin Grech.
Gozo minister Justyne Caruana absented herself at the start of the debate as she and her husband, the deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta, were mentioned in the motion.
Her voice breaking, Dr Caruana said she would be going home to assure her children that neither she nor he had done anything wrong.
The Constitutional Court ruled in October that Mr Valletta should not be involved in the investigation.
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