Prime Minister Robert Abela believes the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia ought to end next week. 

Taking reporters’ questions on Monday morning, Abela said the board of inquiry, tasked with investigating whether Caruana Galizia’s murder could have been avoided, has already been given enough time to fulfil its mandate. 

The inquiry was given a three-month extension in September because of delays caused by COVID-19. 

That extension expires on Tuesday week, December 15.

“I believe the inquiry has already had enough time to fulfil its work and I have not received any request to extend,” he said, pointing out that the date of the first extension was suggested by the board itself.  

The Daphne Caruana Galizia foundation, set up by the journalist's family, insisted on Sunday the inquiry should be allowed to complete its work and the government should commit to implementing its report if lessons are to be learnt. 

Opposition leader Bernard Grech accused Abela of wanting to halt the inquiry. 

Writing on Twitter, Grech said: "If he were at all interested in the truth he would let the board work, free from political interference. 

"The people want justice, Prime Minister. And you're in the way."

In October the inquiry board said it will go over the deadline if needed. A clause in the inquiry board’s terms of reference that established (the original) nine-month deadline came with a proviso about “the proper fulfilment” of the terms, the board pointed out.

The inquiry, made up of retired judge Michael Mallia, serving judge Abigail Lofaro and former chief justice emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino, is investigating whether any state entity might have facilitated or failed to prevent the assassination of the prominent journalist. 

It was formed last year following pressure from European bodies and civil society organisations.   

The inquiry began its work last December, just before Yorgen Fenech was arrested in connection with the murder, and was meant to conclude its work within nine months. 

It will then draw up a report and present it to the prime minister and attorney general.

Caruana Galizia’s family have been heavily critical of the prime minister’s decision to set a December 15 deadline for completion of its work.

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