Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has ruled out a judicial public inquiry into whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder could have been avoided.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Dr Muscat said there was no need for a public inquiry because as far as he knew the family had full confidence in the independent magistrate who was taking care of the investigation and who had no intrusion.
“I would like to remind you that three people have already been arrested and there are ongoing procedures on the issue. That is almost unprecedented."
The family is claiming that unless a public inquiry is held, the Prime Minister would not be fulfilling his obligation under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Asked whether he would consider the family’s request to go beyond the magistrate’s inquiry to a full public inquiry, Dr Muscat said the government had seen exactly what the ECHR is saying and he believed the obligations were being fulfilled.
He said he also believed investigators needed to be given the space to investigate and he was not too sure whether a second public inquiry, whatever that meant, could lead to a better result.
Dr Muscat said that some sort of Parliamentary inquiry can be carried out once the judicial process was finalised so as not to compromise the situation.
He referred to case law in Malta saying that there was a corruption case that had been seriously undermined because of statements made by a Prime Minister.
But Tony Murphy, the Caruana Galizia family lawyer, said the Prime Minister had evaded the crucial question, which was who was investigating whether Daphne’s death could have been avoided and if there was any state complicity in her assassination.
“Dr Muscat appears to have avoided that question because no one is in fact investigating that central issue.”
The criminal proceedings, he said, were investigating a much narrower issue which was who detonated the bomb that ended Ms Caruana Galizia’s life and the magistrate was investigating whether others should be charged with other offences for commissioning that heinous crime.
However neither process was investigating the wider and much more serious question as to whether the Maltese state was responsible for the loss of Ms Caruana Galizia’s life either by failing to protect her from others or as a result of state collusion, which could not be ruled out, he said.
“The public inquiry we called for is a judicial public inquiry headed by a senior member of the judiciary joined perhaps by international jurors. And the problem with deferring the public inquiry, throwing it into the long grass as it were is that the evidential trail regarding any state failings will obviously run cold. It’s been almost a year since Daphne’s assassination and the European Convention on Human Rights requires a prompt investigation, 12 months is hardly that.”
Mr Murphy said the Council of Europe is meeting next week and the family was invited to address it on the issue of the public inquiry so there was already a body of international concern regarding the attempt by the Prime Minister to block the public inquiry.