The mother of young construction site victim Jean Paul Sofia who tragically lost his life last December in a building site collapse last December, this morning made a particularly poignant Workers’ Day gesture.
Isabelle Bonnici this morning laid a wreath at the Worker’s Monument in Msida in loving memory of her son and in memory of all those who lost their lives on the job.
A statement published by Sofia’s friends and family stressed the importance of safeguarding the well-being and lives of all workers, who, with so much perseverance and sacrifice, provide for their families.
The aim of the fight for justice Sofia’s mother, family and friends are undertaking is to ensure workers do not fall victim to “greed and carelessness” and that they return home safe and sound after a day’s work.
Jean Paul Sofia died in a building collapse on 3 December in what was to be a timber factory that was being illegally built on government property by Serbian contractors for Maltese developers with a criminal past and connections to the Lands Authority.
Sofia’s mother this morning reiterated the importance of opening a Public Inquiry in parallel to the Magisterial Inquiry into her son’s death.
“It is only a Public Inquiry can identify where the Institutions failed to protect Jean Paul’s life,” she said.
“It is only a Public Inquiry that can reveal the flaws in the system and make the necessary recommendations to change the law to protect the lives of workers such as those at construction sites “It is only A Public Inquiry that can protect workers from those who do not value life and family.”
So far Prime Minister Robert Abela has resisted calls for a Public Inquiry, arguing that an ongoing magisterial inquiry would suffice.
The family of Sofia, who was 20 years old when he lost his life, has condemned Abela’s opposition to a public inquiry, saying that full justice means an inquiry into whether “state authorities or representatives failed in their obligation to safeguard his life”.
Abela has consistently shot down requests for a public inquiry into the December 2022 death, stating that “a public inquiry hinders and does not help achieve justice”.
Sofia’s family believes that the current, magisterial inquiry “is not capable of identifying State failure, administrative, regulatory and legislative gaps, and therefore cannot make recommendations for eliminating the risk to life and injury at construction sites” as it is only intended to identify criminal culpability.
Several NGOs, public figures, and the opposition have joined the parents’ call for such a public inquiry.
The opposition has also filed a parliamentary motion for the public inquiry to be held.
The government land in Kordin on which the collapse occurred was being managed by Indis Malta, formerly Malta Industrial Parks. The concession was given some years ago to developer Matthew Schembri, who co-owns furniture and construction company AllPlus Ltd, along with Kurt Buhagiar.
Buhagiar is a convicted human trafficker, having served a year in a Ragusa prison in 2011. He is also Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella’s personal driver and right-hand man. The convicted trafficker was also set to receive a promotion at the authority.
Schembri, meanwhile, is currently facing court proceedings over the alleged hiring of foreign hit men for an attack on his former wife’s father on the Sliema front.
The construction on site began through a Development Notification Order filed by architect Adriana Zammit, a full-time architect at Infrastructure Malta.
Before construction at the Kordin site began, Zammit had been obliged to file a Commencement Notice to the Planning Authority and Building and Construction Agency. No such notice was filed, which meant the construction work was illegal.
The architect involved in Pace’s death has filed over 100 planning applications since the fatal collapse.