Isabelle Bonnici has urged Labour MPs to ignore the party whip and follow their conscience in the parliamentary vote on a public inquiry into the death of her son Jean Paul Sofia. 

“MPs should vote according to their conscience and ask themselves how they would vote if it was their son,” Bonnici told Times of Malta.  

Sofia died in a building collapse on a Corradino construction site last December.

Since the tragedy, his family, the Nationalist Party and several civil society groups have called for a public inquiry to be held.  However, the government’s position is that a magisterial inquiry into the tragedy is enough to bring those responsible to justice. 

Bonnici speaks to Labour MP and minister Clayton Bartolo outside parliament. She wants Labour MPs to defy their party's whip. Photo: Jonathan BorgBonnici speaks to Labour MP and minister Clayton Bartolo outside parliament. She wants Labour MPs to defy their party's whip. Photo: Jonathan Borg

MPs will vote on whether a public inquiry into the 20-year-old’s death will go forward on Wednesday. 

Bonnici believes that several members of the government are in favour of a public inquiry into her son’s death but are tied by the party whip.  

Prime minister’s cold heart was defying the brave heart of Sofia’s mother Jean Paul Sofia’s mum- PN leader Bernard Grech

Bonnici appealed to Labour MPs to defy the whip and vote for a public inquiry if “they want more just and safe workplaces and the whole truth to come out”.  

She said a public inquiry would uncover the truth about the collapse and identify whoever is directly and indirectly responsible, and has also started an online petition to drum up support. 

The Corradino building which collapsed, killing Sofia. Photo: Jonathan BorgThe Corradino building which collapsed, killing Sofia. Photo: Jonathan Borg

But she is also calling for the inquiry to avoid other similar tragedies.

“If there was a public inquiry into the death of Miriam Pace things might have been different (for Sofia),” she said.  

Pace died in March 2020 after being buried beneath the rubble of her home. The building she was in caved in while a construction project next door was taking place.

Calls for public inquiry ignored by PM Robert Abela

Calls for a public inquiry into her death were ignored by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Bonnici said that a public inquiry into her son’s death can identify what mistakes were made, which can then be avoided in the future.  

 “There are serious shortcomings in the construction industry,” she said.  

 Two days ago, the PN opposition presented a motion in parliament calling for a public inquiry into the young man’s death. 

The PN wants the inquiry to be appointed by a two-thirds majority in parliament and for its work to be both public and streamed live. It should have the necessary resources to carry out its task.

Jean Paul Sofia.Jean Paul Sofia.

But the government amended the motion which removed all references to the independent inquiry and instead called for a speedy conclusion to an ongoing magisterial inquiry. 

The PN then presented a counter amendment which reverts the motion to a call for a public inquiry.  

Parliament to vote on Wednesday

On Wednesday, parliament will vote on both amendments before voting on the motion in its entirety.  

Labour MPs are expected to pass the government’s amendment that waters down the PN motion and reject the PN’s counter-amendment.  

Police not doing their job, PN say 

PN leader Bernard Grech reiterated calls for a public inquiry on Friday, saying the prime minister’s “cold heart” was defying the “brave heart” of Sofia’s mother.  

The fact that Abela had not launched a public inquiry raised suspicions that he had something to hide, he said 

“If Robert Abela wants to protect his friends, I want to protect the voiceless,” he said. Grech added that the police are not fulfilling their obligation to investigate Sofia’s death.  

The police have the power to investigate cases separately from a magisterial inquiry. They have an obligation to investigate, Grech insisted. 

“The police commissioner knows he does not need to wait for a magisterial inquiry to conclude before investigating, arresting and interrogating people they see fit,” Grech said.  

The police can also charge people in court, he added.  

“Those who have authority to enforce the law are not using their power to protect citizens,” Grech said. 

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