The board heading the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caurana Galizia will have to carry the responsibility of its decision to extend the inquiry deadline, the government has said in a statement.
The board, on Monday, set a date for the next sitting which is beyond the deadline that was set. The board said it needed more time to conclude its work and highlighted that they needed to know about findings from data analysed by Europol.
Under the extension granted by the Prime Minister – which he described as a one-time thing – the inquiry had to finish its work by 15 December.
At the end of the sitting on Monday, Judge Michael Mallia read out a decree which stated that in defence of its “independence and autonomy, it would appreciate if it were allowed to proceed with its work serenely so it can reach an objective judgement without any “improper pressure and undue interference.”
The board noted that the original nine-month limit in the terms of reference had been set out without prejudice to the “just fulfilment” of those terms, agreed upon with the family of the assassinated journalist. “Every attempt to limit or extend those terms is thus unacceptable,” the board declared, going on to state that any such attempt, direct or indirect, is to be considered as interference in the course of justice.
In a statement on Tuesday, the government said that the board took it upon itself to extend the terms of the inquiry indefinitely. “The board also decided that only it has the right to determine the limits of the terms of reference. The board must carry the responsibility for what it has decided.”