Last Monday (18 June 2012) evening Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi refused a request by the family of Nicholas Azzopardi to table in Parliament vital information about their son’s death. Nicholas Azzopardi died after an incident while he was in police custody four years ago when he was found seriously hurt at the bottom of three-storey high bastions at the back of Police Headquarters where CCTV cameras do not reach.
Through their MP Evarist Bartolo they asked the Prime Minister to give them access to documents and videos that are vital to piece together what happened while Nicholas was in police custody.
Last Monday Prime Minister Gonzi turned down this request saying that at this stage no photocopying is possible of the documents requested as they are not at the Attorney General’s (AG) Office as they are in the possession of the Inquiring Magistrate who ahs opened a fresh investigation after new allegations about what might have led to Nicholas’ death.
The Azzopardi family is very hurt that the Prime Minister told Bartolo on Monday that anyway the Azzopardi family had access to the documents after the first inquiry was carried out.
The Azzopardi family said that this access was very restricted. They were given an hour and a half to go through hundreds of documents at the AG’s Office and when they asked to photocopy them they were told that it would cost €5,000.
On 20 August 2008 they asked the AG access to the documents and on the following day they were told that the documents had been sealed by the Inquiring Magistrate and they had to ask him to have access to them. When they asked the Inquiring Magistrate, their request was turned down.
On 18 May 2012 the father of Nicholas Azzopardi sent this email at 14.59 to the Prime Minister: “I thank you that after four years you felt the need to talk to us after every MP and others including your brother whom I invited home, slammed the door in our faces. My wife and my son Nicholas were hurt at the Tal-Barrani incidents and my son a month before he died four years ago did not miss one meeting of the PN. Your treated us like dirt and we had to fight our case alone. Nicholas loved you and all of you let him down. (signed) Joseph the father of the dead Nicholas.”
This was the second letter written by the family of Nicholas Azzopardi to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi after he sent them an email in which he said: “Dear Mr Azzopardi, as a father, I appreciate your own and your family’s great pain. The tragic loss of a son is a great a tragedy and only those who unfortunately go through it know the full extent of its. I am also pained to note that you consider certain media are not promoting the cause of justice. Government, and indeed me too, want that justice and truth prevail. Should you wish, I am prepared to meet you so that I can understand better your concerns.”
The Azzopardi family feels hurt that the Prime Minister has taken four years to contact them. Four years ago when Nicholas died, the Prime Minister's brother, MP Michael Gonzi, had promised them that the Prime Minister was going to call them but he never did. He had been shocked that Nicholas’ brother, Reno, had managed to interview Nicholas on video on his death bed where he said that he had beaten by policemen and then thrown over the bastion. The family felt that the PN at that point seemed more concerned at the harm that this story could cause government than at the death of Nicholas.