Judiciary urged to investigate chemo deaths claim
The judiciary has been urged to use its own initiative to conduct an inquiry into the claim by Stephen Brincat, the former head of the Oncology Department, that two cancer patients died from chemotherapy toxicity in Gozo more than 15 years ago.
Writing in The Times today, the Opposition spokesman for justice, Jose' Herrera said that what is being contended could constitute the elements of a crime.
Dr Herrera said it was disturbing to witness how the judiciary’s role of scrutinising abuse in the public sector has been brought to nothing.
All this ran counter to the spirit of the law.
Article 546 of the Criminal Code obliges the courts to hold inquiries upon the receipt of any report, information or complaint in regard to any offence liable to a punishment of imprisonment exceeding three years.
"It is of the utmost importance that investigations are carried out by the judiciary. It is not in the spirit of the law for a minister to appoint his own confidant to investigate allegations levelled against him or his ministry. More often than not, a retired member of the judiciary would carry out such investigation and would, as experience has shown, exonerate the government," he said.
He recalled that, shockingly, a few years ago the government was actually intent on restricting the powers of inquiring magistrates. The Minister of Justice had proposed amendments aimed at changing the law to make it mandatory for a magistrate to seek prior permission from the Chief Justice before holding an inquiry.
This was proposed in the aftermath of certain judicial inquiries which had embarrassed the government.
The proposed amendment was eventually withdrawn.
See opinion piece in full at http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120906/opinion/The-misuse-of-judicial-inquiries.435795