Architect of new ‘Monument to the Republic’ is son of police inspector who carried dying Nardu Debono back to his cell

Published: December 17, 2015 at 5:25pm

It could not be more fitting had it been scripted by George Orwell. It turns out that Claude Mallia, the architect of the state’s new ‘monument to the Republic’ is the son of the police inspector who, together with another police officer, carried a dying man, Nardu Debono, back to his cell at Police Headquarters after he had received a savage beating, including being kicked repeatedly in the spleen, during ‘interrogation’. It was a notorious case, in 1980, which has gone down in political and legal history.

Debono was so badly beaten and close to death’s door that he couldn’t stand and the two police officers had to carry him on a chair from the office where he was ‘interrogated’ to his cell. There, they laid him out on the bunk, locked the door and left him.

Debono died in his cell that night and his body was loaded into the boot of a police car and dumped under a valley bridge, where it was found shortly afterwards. Given that he was last seen entering the Police Headquarters in one piece, it was immediately obvious what had happened.

But the police did not investigate themselves in the Golden Years, and given that the police force was part and parcel of the Labour Party in power, nothing happened until the Nationalist Party was elected to government in 1987.

Lawrence Pullicino, who was the Commissioner of Police when Nardu Debono was beaten to death under interrogation, was tried for his murder and found guilty in 1993. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 2000, having served just half his prison sentence. He was not alone in beating him up – there was others in that office holding him down and helping to beat him, but they got away with it.

Claude Mallia’s father – police inspector Alfred Mallia – was removed from the police force and into a job with a government department. He was offered immunity from prosecution in return for testifying in the trial of Lawrence Pullicino and accordingly turned state’s evidence.

Twenty-odd years down the line, his son Claude has been put on various boards and tribunals at Heritage Malta and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, in return for having worked hard on the Labour Party’s general election campaign. He has also been commissioned to work on the new ‘monument to the Republic’ after having been part of the jury which chose the winning design.

Before writing this post, I rang Claude Mallia to confirm that he is in fact the son of the police inspector who carried the dying Nardu Debono back to his cell (he is).

Me: “I have just found out that your father was the police inspector who carried the dying Nardu Debono back to his cell. Is this information correct?”

Claude Mallia: “I don’t know whether my father was a policeman or not.”

Me: “Are you serious? How can you not know whether your father was a policeman?”

CM: “When was this?”

Me: “In the 1980s.”

CM: “I was a young boy then. I don’t remember.”

Me: “You don’t remember the Nardu Debono case, or you don’t remember that your father was a policeman?”

CM: “I don’t know whether my father was a policeman or not. I remember him working for the government.”

Me: “You can’t possibly be serious. So you’re telling me that because you don’t actually remember your father as a policeman, then you don’t know he was one because nobody ever told you, is that right? Do you know your father’s name at least? Is his name Alfred?”

CM: Laughs

Me: “You don’t know what your father is called?”

CM: “Can you ask me about things to do with me?”

Me: “Oh good. Can you tell me why you were appointed to several MEPA and Heritage Malta positions after March 2013? Was it in return for helping the Labour Party get into government?”

CM: “I don’t know why I was chosen. You should ask them because I can’t reply on that.”

Me: “Why were you commissioned to work on the monument to the Republic, when you formed part of the jury that chose the winning design?”

CM: “I can’t answer that. I don’t know why. You will have to ask them.”

Me: “OK, I’ll rephrase the question. Why did you accept the commission, given that you have a clear conflict of interest?”

CM: “I can’t answer that. I have to tell you again that you need to ask Heritage Malta not me.”

I realised at this point that I was going to have to explain ‘conflict of interest’, gave up and rang off. I wasn’t about to have a discussion on ethics with a man raised by somebody who, as a police officer asked to carry a dying man from the interrogation room he had entered whole, back to his cell, promptly did so, left him there to die and then hung about the yard until he got a lift back home. The sins of the fathers & c & c, but the point here is that somebody like that can’t raise a child with any kind of ethical basis at all because he clearly doesn’t have one himself.

The new monument to the Republic, built by the son of a Golden Years of Labour police inspector who carried a dying man from the interrogation room where he had been savaged back to his cell where he died. If it were not so twisted, I would have to love it for being so very fitting.

lawrence pullicino

Nardu Debono 1

nardu debono 2

nardu debono 3

nardu debono 4