In a judgement delivered by the Court of Magistrates as a Court of Criminal Judicature, the presiding Magistrate made some very pertinent comments about the prevailing situation in the building industry.
The facts of this case related to a very tragic and unfortunate accident which resulted in the untimely death of a French student who had come to Malta for a holiday with his friends. In fact, on the day of the incident, victim had landed in Malta a few hours before and went straight to a villa where he was going to lodge here in Malta together with the rest of his friends.
At a point in time, the victim was hanging onto a wall pulling himself above it whilst at the same time asking his friends to take photos of this. Whilst he was doing this, the wall, which was a feature wall that was built in front of the boundary wall of the viable, gave way and crushed the victim’s chest causing fatal injuries. Technical evidence produced showed that the wall was not constructed properly.
Criminal proceedings for involuntary homicide were instituted against the contractors who had built the house and the wall in question as well as against the owners of the villa.
In delivering judgement, the Court said that there was a need for the building industry to be regulated. It suggested that a register of construction workers should be introduced whereby persons who work in construction have to be duly registered thereby ensuring that they are adequately qualified to do such work.
The Court commented further that it was unacceptable that Malta continues to experience a constant influx of foreigners who are employed within the construction industry when they would have never previously worked within this field. This is a practice that is placing both these workers and society in general at risk. Thus, the Court suggested that in order to avoid further accidents an authority should be set up to regulate and monitor this industry which is booming within our country.
Furthermore, the presiding Magistrate stated that even the Maltese legislative framework was lagging behind and lacked a holistic approach since various laws relating to the building industry were scattered around and fragmented in various pieces of legislation.
The Court concluded by finding the contractors guilty of involuntary homicide. On the other hand, the owners of the villa were acquitted of the charge since they had not in any way contributed to this untimely death.
Dr. Joseph Giglio appeared for the owner of the premises in these proceedings.
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