The Still Unsolved Political Murder of An Innocent 15 Year Old – Karin Grech

Karin Maria Grech (1962 – 28 December 1977) was the daughter of Professor Edwin Grech, then head of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke’s Hospital, Malta.

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In 1977, aged 15, she was killed by a letterbomb addressed to her father. In the presence of her brother Kevin (then 10 years old), she opened the package, which she thought to be a present since it was covered in wrapping paper. The bomb exploded, and she died half an hour later at St. Luke’s Hospital, due to severe burns on various parts of her body. At her funeral Mass, Archbishop Mikiel Gonzi called the murder of Karin Grech “the first terrorist act in the country”.

1977 doctors’ strike

At that time the doctors at Saint Luke’s Hospital had an issue with the Labour Government and there was a strike at the Hospital. Despite this Grech still went to work, and although there is no forensic evidence linking the bomb to the doctors’ strike, the strike and persons related to those events were blamed.

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On the same day that the Grech family received the bomb, another bomb was sent to the doctor and Labour MP of that time Paul Chetcuti Caruana, but it did not detonate.

Investigation

The case remains unsolved, the perpetrators unknown, and the Magisterial Inquiry is still open. Since 2008, the Police have been interrogating people who had not been questioned by police in previous investigations. In 2009, the newspaper It-Torċa reported that the police are suspecting a small number of Maltese doctors who reside in England, who were known to have close ties with the Nationalist Party at the time of the 1977 doctors’ strike.

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The same newspaper reported that articles which appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1977 are also being investigated.

Compensation

In late November 2010, the Civil Court ordered the Prime Minister to give a sum of €419,287 to Professor Grech and his family as compensation for Karin’s murder. Grech said that this opens many doors in his investigation to help the police to find out the killer or killers. At the same time, he showed disappointment at the way the police have investigated the murder of his daughter. Judge Raymond Pace, who chaired the proceedings, said that the failure of the Government to compensate the family for all these years is a discriminatory treatment based on policy.

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The judge made it clear that the crime happened as a consequence of the services that Professor Grech offered to the Maltese Government, and that the Government, in deciding to refuse compensation, was acting in a discriminatory manner. Judge Pace argued that the evidence shows that the government compensated several people who ended up as victims due to their service to the Government, or who have suffered from violent acts, but failed to do the same with the Grech family.