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NEWS | Sunday, 04 May 2008

Malta bids first President a last farewell

Charlot Zahra

Sir Anthony Mamo, the last Governor-General of Malta and the first President of the Republic, who died early on Thursday morning aged 99, was one of a dying breed of statesmen who were passionate in their love for their country.
In his speeches he continually referred to the importance of national unity in the interest of the country and he kept repeating his love for the country.
“I love my country from the bottom of my heart,” Sir Anthony said in one of his last public appearances on his birthday on 9 January.
One of his finest moments of patriotism for his country was when Sir Anthony took his Oath of Office as the first President of Malta on 13 December 1974, the day Malta became a Republic.
“I have just sworn to give my services to you and the whole people as Head of State and as a Representative of union and national unity. You too, each one of you, should vow in the silence of your hearts to make your part humbly, honestly, not with egoism or segmented spirits, but in the interest of your neighbour and your country which should come first and foremost,” Sir Anthony had told the crowds that had thronged St George’s Square in Valletta.
At the same time, Sir Anthony’s gentle demeanour betrayed this passion. When he was told that he was the world's oldest living former Head of State, Sir Anthony had joked during his last birthday that, although he knew he was old, he never realised he was that old.
Sir Anthony was born at Birkirkara on 9 January 1909. He was educated at the Archbishop's Seminary and later at the Royal University of Malta where, in 1931, he graduated as Bachelor of Arts (B.A) and in 1934, as Doctor of Laws (LL.D).
In 1942 Sir Anthony entered the Attorney-General's Office as one of the Crown Counsel. Here he occupied in succession all the grades, until he himself became Attorney-General in 1955.
Between 1947 and 1957, Sir Anthony served under four Prime Ministers – Sir Paul Boffa, Dr Enrico Mizzi, Dr George Borg Olivier and Mr Dom Mintoff – as chief legal adviser. In this capacity he accompanied all Ministerial delegations for discussions and negotiations with the British Government.
From 1943 Sir Anthony was Professor of Criminal Law at the Malta University up to 1957, when he was appointed Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal.
In 1964 Sir Anthony became the first President of the New Constitutional Court and in 1967 he became also the first President of the new Court of Criminal Appeals.
Sir Anthony was awarded the O.B.E in 1957 and was awarded a Knighthood in 1959. In 1955 he was appointed Honorary Q.C. for Malta.
Since June 1962, Sir Anthony acted on several occasions, first, as Governor's Deputy, and later, under the Malta Independence Constitution as Acting Governor-General. On 3 July 1971 Sir Anthony was appointed first Maltese Governor-General.
He held office as the first President of Malta between 13 December 1974 and 26 December 1976.
President Eddie Fenech Adami paid tribute to Sir Anthony who, as President, was “exemplary, careful about protocol and in his behaviour he was most affable and humble at all times in spite of his wisdom.”
For the last 12 years, Sir Anthony had lived at Casa Arkati in Mosta. Chief Justice Vincent De Gaetano, who the last time he met him was two days before his last birthday in January said: “Even in his old age he was always interested in what was going on in the courts and would enquire about this or that judge or lawyer.”

czahra@mediatoday.com.mt


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