This website is informed that the magistrate inquiring into the deaths of 12 people at sea during the Easter weekend sent two notes referring to his report to all his colleagues in the judiciary yesterday with the comments ‘You have much to read.’ and ‘I sent you a copy.’
The two notes, it seems, were sent from Magistrate Joe Mifsud’s WhatsApp account to a group chat of members of the judiciary at 13:17 and 13:18 yesterday. But they were soon after deleted by the sender using the ‘Delete for Everyone’ feature available on WhatsApp.
This suggests that the reference to the report was sent to the members of the judiciary by mistake and was meant for other recipients.
At law, the text of an inquiry report is secret and the magistrate is expected to only send a copy of the report directly to the Attorney General. And no one else.
The Attorney General then has the exclusive authority to decide what to do with the report. The AG, Peter Grech, has the right to send the report back to the magistrate if he feels anything in the report is missing or requires further investigation. He can also send the report with instructions to the Police Commissioner for any action. Or he can suppress the report.
The inquiry into the deaths of 12 people during the Easter Massacre in Malta’s area of responsibility at sea commenced after a complaint filed by NGO Repubblika. The complaint named as one of the suspects, Prime Minister Robert Abela. Repubblika alleged that decisions taken by the prime minister to delay the rescue of migrants stranded on a boat for several days may have led to their deaths.
The last time a prime minister was the subject of a criminal inquiry was the Egrant case. When Magistrate Aaron Bugeja’s inquiry was concluded, the Attorney General unilaterally decided to send a copy of the inquiry report directly and immediately to then prime minister Joseph Muscat.
Leader of Opposition Adrian Delia successfully sued the Attorney General in court because he did not get a copy after requesting it. The court ordered Peter Grech to give Adrian Delia a copy of the Egrant report accepting Adrian Delia’s argument that since Joseph Muscat had had a copy, the leader of opposition was being prevented from fulfilling his duties to scrutinise the government properly.
Sources in the office of the prime minister tell this website that Prime Minister Robert Abela is fully appraised of the conclusions of Magistrate Joe Mifsud’s inquiry. However, it is not known if this information was passed to the Prime Minister from the Attorney General or if it was sent to him separately.
Repubblika expressed surprise two days ago at news reported in the Times of Malta that Magistrate Joe Mifsud’s inquiry was wrapped up inside of four weeks. “This is not a normal timeframe for an inquiry into a matter as serious as the deaths of 12 people.” The organisation contrasted this timeframe with inquiries into misconduct of government officials that have been pending for over 3 years.
Repubblika said it was concerned institutions, such as the police, did not give the effort needed to ensure the 12 dead and the other victims of the Easter Massacre in Malta’s seas the justice they deserved.