UPDATE 4: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is planning to meet the family of the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to discuss the inquiry that will look into the circumstances surrounding her death.
A spokesman for the Office of the Prime Minister told Times of Malta that the government had established contact with the Caruana Galizia family to find a mutually agreeable date to hold a meeting. (Times of Malta)
UPDATE 3: NGO Repubblika said it was deeply disturbed to learn that the government had not consulted the Caruana Galizia family about the composition of the inquiry. The NGO said that while no one doubted Prof. Refalo’s legal competence, he was also required to be impartial. “He represents the FIAU, the reputation of which has been utterly destroyed by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s formidable journalism. She has exposed that agency’s ineptitude or wilful reluctance in fighting against pervasive money laundering and has forced the agency to buckle under the scrutiny of the European Banking Authority and other international agencies and institutions,” the NGO said.
Prof. Refalo also represents the FIAU in the case raised by Jonathan Ferris. Mr Ferris is a key witness in matters raised by Ms Caruana Galizia in her journalism and that could be connected with her assassination, the NGO said. Prof. Refalo also counts among his clients former Allied Group Managing Director Adrian Hillman, who had also been a subject of Ms Caruana Galizia’s writings. (Times of Malta)
The government in response to this, said it has “taken note” of comments made on the persons occupying the role of Chairperson and Members of the independent public inquiry appointed on Friday by the Prime Minister, noting that “no criticism was made with regards to the terms of reference”.
It explained that, “With regards to Mr Justice Emeritus Michael Mallia’s role as court-appointed expert in the compilation of evidence proceedings following the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, this does not interfere with his role as Chairperson of the Inquiry. In fact, Mr Justice Mallia was appointed as expert upon the consent of all parties involved.”
On Professor Ian Refalo’s appointment, the government noted it this was criticised “solely due to his role as a professional lawyer. The right to access to a lawyer and the right of a lawyer to practice his or her profession are cornerstones of the rule of law, and this does not impede a lawyer’s judgement.
“Professor Refalo is well known for his integrity and is a point of reference for the legal profession in Malta. That being said, lawyers are governed by a Code of Ethics.”
As far as the current role of Dr Anthony Abela Medici as Commissioner for NGOs is concerned, the government said, “It has to be stated the Voluntary Organisations Act provides for important safeguards of security of tenure for this post. Therefore, the claim that the Commissioner for NGOs is dependent on government is incorrect.” (Malta Independent)
UPDATE 1 : Caruana Galizia family has asked to meet Prime Minister Joseph Muscat over concerns on some members of the independent public inquiry appointed on Friday.
In a statement, the family said a public inquiry chaired by a respected former judge “is what all right-minded people have been calling for since our mother’s and wife’s assassination.”
However, it said that “given the gravity of its purpose and its mandate to investigate state institutions, justice demands that the Board’s wider members have no financial or political links to the current political administration.”
“The Board will be unfit for purpose if the public has reason to doubt any of its wider members’ independence or impartiality.”
The family said it is asking to meet with the Prime Minister without delay to discuss its concerns “in that regard.” (Malta Independent)
Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia to preside over a public independent inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The commission will be also composed of former Dean of the Faculty of Law, constitutional expert Ian Refalo and forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici.
In a report on the state of the rule of law in Malta published in June, the Council of Europe called on the government to set up a public inquiry aimed at establishing whether the journalist’s death could have been prevented.
The council’s imposed three-month deadline for the inquiry to begin would have expired on Thursday.