Updated 11.55am, adds family statement

The late Lino Cauchi's heirs were on Thursday awarded €615,000 in compensation for breach of rights.

Anna Cassar and Paolo Cauchi, widow and son of the accountant whose brutal fate came to light three years after his mysterious disappearance in 1982, had filed constitutional proceedings against the Prime Minister in 2020, following a judicial letter which still failed to register any progress. 

They had said that the “tragic failure” by the state to solve the murder had only served to accentuate the “tremendous injustice” suffered by the family who claimed that their right to life, to family and to protection against discrimination had been trampled upon.

The applicants said the state had not only failed to protect their relative’s life, but also to seriously investigate his murder, take all necessary measures to ensure that justice was served and afford compensation to the family who, to date, was still facing “immense and insurmountable” consequences. 

In a 65-page judgment, the court found that there was a grave shortcoming by the police who repeatedly failed to open a magisterial inquiry in the aftermath of Cauchi's disappearance. Valuable evidence was not preserved leading to certain evidence being lost forever.

Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale read out chunks of his 65-page judgment in court in the presence of, among others, Cauchi's brother. 

The judge said in his judgment that it was now practically impossible for Cauchi's family to discover the truth and they can in no way have closure.

"The state failed the family especially in the early months after the disappearance," the judgment said.

When meting out compensation, Depasquale referred to the Karin Grech and Nardu Debono cases. While the heirs of the first had received €420,000 in 2010, those of the second got €350,000 in 2003.

In the case of Cauchi, set compensation at €15,000 for every year.

It noted that Cauchi was a well-established accountant, aged 32 when he disappeared 41 years ago.

So €15,000 were being granted for every year the case went unsolved in hope that this award "would afford the family some form of closure" for the trauma they have been through, the judge said.

Lawyers Peter and Elena Fenech assisted the family.

The murder

Cauchi was among the handful of accounting practitioners in Malta in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the time, the island was experiencing very turbulent political times, dominated by rampant institutionalised corruption.

His clients included a group of people connected to Lorry Sant, the only high-profile Maltese politician ever to be found involved in corruption by the Permanent Commission Against Corruption.

In December 1981, days before a tense general election, Mr Cauchi was called for a meeting at the office of the late Joe Pace, owner of the Magic Kiosk in Sliema, when, according to court evidence, the accountant was instructed to draft various promises of sale agreements on the transfer of land to members of Sant’s clique.

The evidence also indicated that Cauchi had objected to what was being done and, after he had left the meeting, one of those present had remarked that Cauchi was a problem.

Two months later, on February 14, 1982, the 32-year-old accountant left his home in Santa Venera for his office in Valletta and never returned.

More than three years later, on November 15, 1985, the remains of a human body were found by the police in a shallow well in the area known as Il-Bosk, near Buskett Gardens in Rabat. They were later identified as Cauchi's.

Family statement

In a statement issued immediately after the court sitting, the family thanked all those who had had the courage to testify in the case in spite of believing that the killer is still on the loose.

It also thanked the court for hearing and deciding the case in less than two years.

The family said it will continue to fight for justice, which had now been partially achieved, and encouraged the police commissioner to order the police to once again go through all the evidence so that those responsible would be caught and pay for their crimes.

 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us