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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

Justice denied

It’s been seven months since twenty-year-old Jean Paul Sofia’s lifeless body was found under a collapsed building, following a fourteen hour search amidst concrete, stone and bricks.

It’s been seven months since a family’s life was ripped apart by the negligence and greed of the construction industry.

It’s been seven months of Jean Paul’s mother relentlessly calling for a public inquiry, to learn the truth about her son’s horrific and senseless death. To ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

The whole affair stinks to high heaven. The property on which the tragedy unfolded is a government property managed by Indis Malta, the state agency responsible for industrial parks. The premises were an emphyteutical concession awarded to Kurt Buhagiar and his business partner Matthew Schembri.

Buhagiar spent more than a year in a Ragusa prison in 2011 after being caught red-handed by the Italian police trafficking people between Libya, Malta and Sicily along with two other Maltese accomplices. He is a high-ranking official at the Lands Authority. His business partner, Schembri, has also faced accusations of criminal wrongdoing in connection with two “hitmen” allegedly hired to assault his ex-wife’s father. He has been the beneficiary of at least 25 government contracts.

The architect who applied for the building permit – Adriana Zammit – is a former Planning Authority official and at the time of the incident a full-time employee at Infrastructure Malta.

The construction was being built illegally, as the project could only proceed if the architect involved – Adriana Zammit – had first filed a Commencement Notice with the Planning Authority and obtained the necessary permit from the Building and Construction Agency (BCA). Which she had not done. The Shift News reported that the the building was being constructed by a Serbian contractor – Miromir Milosovic.

Jean Paul Sofia is not the first to be killed by the negligence and relentless greed of the construction industry. But he should definitely be the last. And a public inquiry would help towards this goal. In his parents’ words, “A public inquiry carried out by competent, independent and impartial people, into the administrative, regulatory and legislative gaps, inaction or failings which may have contributed to Jean Paul’s death, can help save the lives of others.”

However Prime Minister Robert Abela is vehemently resisting calls for a public inquiry, despite strong support for the public inquiry expressed by NGOs, public figures and the Opposition party.

Abela does not seem to keen on preventing future tragedies.

Or is he protecting someone? For a change?

“This was no accident occurring as a result of a natural disaster. This was as much the result of inaction by state entities, and administrative, regulatory and legislative failure, as it was the result of actions of persons involved in the site’s development.” Statement by Jean Paul Sofia’s parents
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