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Valletta mayor says council has no power to decide on Caruana Galizia memorial

Motion moved to remove makeshift memorial

Flowers, wreaths and messages paying tribute to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia at the foot of the Great Siege Monument. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Flowers, wreaths and messages paying tribute to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia at the foot of the Great Siege Monument. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

The Valletta local council cannot discuss a motion to remove the makeshift memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia at the foot of the Great Siege Monument, because the issue falls outside the council’s remit, says the mayor.

Labour councillor Ray Azzopardi moved the motion, which is due to be discussed on Tuesday.

But Mayor Alexiei Dingli says that according to the Fourth Schedule of the Local Coumncils Act, the Great Siege Monument, among others, does not fall within the competence of the local council but is the responsibility of the central government.

This means that technically, the motion should not be discussed as it is ultra vires – beyond the council’s legal authority.

Monument is the responsibility of government

The motion describes the monument as being “abused” and says that posters and photos have been placed there illegally.

“This is not a personal grave but a national monument that honours the people who fought in the Great Siege,” Mr Azzopardi says in his motion, adding that the Criminal Code provides for a maximum fine of €3,500 and an 18-month prison sentence for “the defacement of monuments and statues”.

He asks the Valletta local council to “practise the rule of law if it really believes in it”. The motion was seconded by councillor Mario Camenzuli.

The Civil Society Network has said it is in the process of formally applying to install a memorial to Ms Caruana Galizia in Great Siege Square. It would be a reminder of the murdered journalist’s work and an acknowledgement of her contribution to present and future generations.

Valletta 2018 chairman Jason Micallef, however, has pledged to use “every possible means” to oppose a formal application for a Daphne Caruana Galizia memorial in the capital city.

He said he would object both as chairman of the V18 Foundation and also on a personal basis. “What is being proposed is unacceptable for a thousand reasons,” Mr Micallef said.

The monument has been turned into a focal point for the remembrance of Ms Caruana Galizia, with floral wreaths, cards and pictures placed at its foot. Its location in front of the law courts is seen as symbolic by those demanding justice be done.

Prof. Dingli has said he himself is in favour of keeping the makeshift memorial as an important tribute to the journalist.

The Civil Society Network on Friday called on the police to patrol the area around the Great Siege Monument after footage emerged last week of a woman knocking the flowers and messages from its base.

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