A banner demanding justice for assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has been stripped off the barricades surrounding the Great Siege Monument in Valletta once more.
Candles, flowers and other signs that were placed below the barricades have also removed, in what is the latest development in a saga which started off as the impromptu erection of a makeshift memorial by schoolchildren but which has now spiralled into a lawsuit supported by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
Heritage Malta banners on the barricade to remind people of the Great Siege Monument have remained in place.
PN MEP David Casa immediately pledged to help restore the makeshift memorial once more, decrying the people who removed it last night as “cowards”.
Former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil tweeted the removal is a sign the government wants the public to forget that “it’s dirty”.
When the @MaltaGov repeatedly removes a memorial calling for #truth and #justice, it’s not because it wants to show us that it’s tidy. It’s because it wants us to forget that it’s dirty. https://t.co/kZTphcVMzJ
— Simon Busuttil (@SimonBusuttil) September 18, 2018
Activists have been using the Great Siege Monument as a makeshift memorial to Caruana Galizia since October last year, on the grounds that its position right outside the law courts will serve as a constant reminder to lawyers and the judiciary that justice has not yet been served.
However, critics – including key government officials – have argued the memorial should not be erected under a national monument, particularly since Caruana Galizia was such a divisive figure in her lifetime.
After the recent Victory Day celebrations, the Great Siege monument was barricaded off for restoration works, with Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici posting photos of stains allegedly showing wax from the protest candles had damaged the monument. However, activists have insisted the stains actually originated from chemicals used by maintenance workers to restore the monument.
After officials from the public cleansing department were filmed tearing down a banner with Caruana Galizia’s face from the barricade, journalist-blogger Manuel Delia sued the government on the grounds that this removal stifled his constitutional right to freedom of expression.
Supported by 62 lawyers, including former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and the late journalist’s widower Peter Caruana Galizia, Delia filed a request for an injunction, calling on the court to order the government not to remove the makeshift memorial. However, this request was turned down by Judge Noel Cuschieri, who scheduled a hearing on the case for 5th October.