MaltaToday | 10 August 2008

NEWS | Sunday, 10 August 2008

Nicholas Azzopardi inquiries still open

Four months since the mysterious death of Nicholas Azzopardi after his arrest at police headquarters, the two inquiries into the incident remain inconclusive despite repeated calls from the justice minister to speed up the process.
A magisterial inquiry by Tonio Vella and a separate inquiry called by the government through retired judge Albert Manchè have not yet been concluded, as the victim’s family try to close the bleakest chapter in their life.
Last Friday, Azzopardi’s brother, Reno, was summoned again by judge Manchè. Earlier this year, he was also requested by magistrate Vella to present the camera card carrying the original footage of his brother making the serious claims about police torture just hours before he died.
Azzopardi died on 22 April after claiming he was beaten up and thrown off a wall by his interrogators at police headquarters.
Police sources however claimed with The Times that Azzopardi had jumped off the wall while an officer was injured trying to save him – a version of events that is not even supported on official police records.
The police are holding on to footage which allegedly shows Azzopardi walking in the police yard towards the wall from where, they insist, he jumped.
Yet the internal police register made no reference to the allegation carried on The Times’ front page on 1 May that a policeman was injured as he tried holding Azzopardi, carried under the headline “Policeman ‘tried to save’ Nicholas Azzopardi”.
Nor was there any mention of the alleged treatment the same policeman is supposed to have been given in hospital for “scratches on his forearms and chest injuries”.
Meanwhile, the minister for home affairs and justice, Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, has made it clear that it was essential for the inquiries to be concluded as early as possible.
“Whatever the outcome, we need the conclusions to be able to learn from them and move on,” he said in an interview last June.
Despite a fixed 60-day term set by law by when an inquiry should be finished, the two Azzopardi inquiries remain open, just like the majority of other inquiries.

Azzopardi inquiries

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