Plans for a new state-of-the-art courthouse in Gozo, promised 10 years ago, have been sent back to the drawing board as Justice Minister Jonathan Attard has claimed the search for a site for the project has been renewed.
Despite promises for a new courthouse in Gozo made in the Labour Party’s first electoral manifesto in 2013, Attard claimed a suitable site is yet to be identified in answer to journalists’ questions at a press conference last Friday.
Attard could not answer on the number of options considered but claimed it was “substantial”. He claimed the new facility will house four courtrooms and focus on hearing criminal cases.
The Shift has reported on the years of delays related to the promised Gozo courthouse despite hundreds of thousands of euros spent on geological studies, designs, plans and a planning application process with a construction commencement date in 2016.
Plans for the relocation of the Gozo courthouse started in 2008, under a Nationalist Party administration, as the current building forming part of Citadella was declared inadequate and suffering from structural and accessibility issues.
In 2013, following Anton Refalo’s appointment as Gozo minister, former finance minister Edward Scicluna claimed in a budget speech that a new €12 million courthouse would be built in the next two years.
By 2016, a Planning Authority application (PA/3790/08) for the new building to be constructed in Giorgio Borg Olivier Street was approved but remains unexecuted.
Plans for the project were axed by Justyne Caruana, who replaced Refalo as Gozo minister in 2017. Caruana instead proposed the relocation of the courthouse to an industrial site in Xewkija.
In 2020, Caruana was forced to resign from her post following revelations about her then-husband, former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta’s alleged collusion with businessman Yorgen Fenech, accused of involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Caruana has since been placed back on the public payroll, contracted as a person of trust for Active Ageing Minister Jo Etienne Abela.
Current Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri has consistently stonewalled questions about plans for the new courthouse, claiming the costly consultation process is “still ongoing”.