Listen to Nicholas Azzopardi’s death bed statement on YouTube on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDIy0ayI2N0
Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici has denied that he was ever against the re-opening of the inquiry into Nicholas Azzopardi's death and reiterated that two inquiries had taken place.
The minister was reacting to statements made this morning by Labour MP Michael Falzon, who said that while Mifsud Bonnici had been against it, the Police Commissioner has asked the Attorney General to re-open the inquiry.
"The Home Affairs Ministry never declared itself against the re-opening of the inquiry. However, it is worth noting that the case has been scrutinised twice, and in both inquiries the police were cleared of any wrongdoings," the ministry said.
But while the minister is now stating that he was never against the re-opening of the inquiry, a different answer was given last week by the ministry when contacted by MaltaToday.
Following the arrest and charging of former police sergeant Adrian Lia, who had been crucial in determining the outcome of the Nicholas Azzopardi inquiry, MaltaToday asked the ministry whether it believed Lia's evidence on the case was credible and whether it intended to re-open the Azzopardi case.
But in its reply, the home affairs ministry was evasive and failed to directly answer MaltaToday's questions.
The ministry's full reply to MaltaToday
You may recall that two inquiries were carried out over the Nicholas Azzopardi case. Neither the report of the magisterial inquiry by Magistrate Antonio Vella, nor the report of the inquiry by Mr. Justice Albert Manchè (carried out under the Inquiries Act (Cap 273) found any evidence of wrongdoing by the police which led Mr. Azzopardi to fall. Despite the fact that the documentation in relation to both inquiries has been open to scrutiny by journalists, their findings were never put in doubt.
The Nicholas Azzopardi case
Nicholas Azzopardi died 13 days after he was arrested and was allegedly beaten up by police officers at the Floriana police headquarters on 8 April. Hours before he died on 22 April, he told his family and inquiring magistrate that he had been heavily beaten up by his interrogators while under arrest. His family believe Azzopardi was attacked by an officer who flung a side kick, breaking his ribs and puncturing his lung.
His death was the subject of a magisterial inquiry by Antonio Vella, and of a parallel inquiry by retired judge Albert Manchè launched by the government following the publication of the revelations made by Azzopardi in MaltaToday. The inquiry concluded that there was no wrongdoing by the police.