Sofia public inquiry report published

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 February, 2024 at 11:41 am by Andre Camilleri

A public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia described the tragedy as a “slap in the face” to good governance, and said that in a democratic country like ours impunity based on the pretext that anything goes should not be tolerated.

The 484-page report that was presented to the Prime Minister this morning follows weeks of testimony given before a board led by Ombudsman Joseph Zammit McKeon, and which included Charles Deguara and Perit Mario Cassar as members.

The public inquiry followed the death of 20-year-old Sofia as a building under construction collapsed in Kordin in December 2022.

In its observations, the board found that this was not just a heart-breaking tragedy of a man who died while on the job, on the instructions of his principal, but one also has to consider the whole dynamics of the accident, which injured others as the building collapsed “like dominos”.

The scene of the collapse was shown on the social media, and the authenticity of the footage was not contested, the board noted. “That scene should remain imprinted on the country’s collective memory. It will remain a embarrassing and shameful scene; a slap in the face to good governance.”

It should serve, the inquiry noted, for everyone to learn to appreciate the value of life, a righteous conscience, and that everything should be done properly and appropriately. Whoever thinks that this tragedy should be reduced to an exceptional episode is mistaken, the board noted. If we truly believe that this is a State built on the rule of law, then an investigation into the accident should be done with circumspection and free of any misinterpretations.
This is in fact what happened with this inquiry, the board noted. In a democratic state as our country should be impunity under the pretext of anything goes should not be permitted.

The board said it wanted to do its part for this country not to “sadly remain within the grip of an anything goes mentality”, where what does not affect us is ignored and with the adoption of wrong attitudes.

The non-observance of rules should lead to sanctions, the board said.

The inquiry was an occasion for the country to “look for its soul”, make up for its mistakes, remove what is wrong and do what is right in the best interests of the people.

Now that the inquiry is concluded, it is up to the State to shoulder its responsibility, for what it has done and also for its omissions, the board said.

There were 15 sittings held, with 69 people testfying, some more than once.

The report is published here

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