|Died||28 December 1977
San Ġwann, Malta
|Known for||Murdered by letterbomb|
Karen Grech (1962 – 1977) was the daughter of Professor Edwin Grech the head of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke's Hospital, Malta. She was killed in 1977 by a letterbomb addressed to her father at the age of 15. In the presence of her brother Kevin, who at that time had ten years, Karin 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 several burns on various parts of her body. At the Funeral Mass, Archbishop Michael 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 strike with doctors, it was linked to the strike and persons related to those events. 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.
Although many years have passed, the case remains unsolved and 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 for close ties with the Nationalist Party at the time the 1977 doctors' strike. The same newspaper also reported that articles which appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1977 are also being investigated.
In late November 2010, the Civil Court ordered the Prime Minister to give a sum of € 419,287 to Professor Grech and the his family as compensation for political murder of Karin. In his comments to this news, 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 to 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. The judge made it clear that the crime happened as a consequence of the services that Professor Grech offered to the Maltese Government, and the Government's decision to refuse compensation was acting 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, however failed to do the same with the Grech family. He argued that Karin Grech's murder was one of a medico-political climate, due to a particular dispute which arose between the Government and the Maltese Association of Physicians. He says that the decision of Prof. Grech to accept to continue serving the public with medical services which was the subject of great stress to him and his family.
A few days later the Government announced that it will appeal this judgment. Although it said it would pay the compensation, the Government said that it did not agree with the Court that this was a political case because the crime remains unsolved and still has not been determined who committed the crime. On 11 April 2011, the Constitutional Court dismissed the appeal brought by the Government and upheld the judgment of the Civil Court that the murder of Karin Grech had political reasons. Although the Government had challenged the statement made by the Court it paid compensation to the parents of Karin Grech. Therefore, since it has accepted and paid the compensation, according to the Constitutional Court, this means that the Government accepted the statement that led to the compensation order and therefore it can no longer challenge the declaration.
After Karen Grech's murder, some postal items were checked for bombs between 1978 and 2001. The ones which were marked as safe were marked with a cross and the name of the place where it was applied. These are now known by philatelists as 'Karen Grech Crosses'.
Monuments and memorials
- Karin Grech Hospital, was built in 1981 near St. Luke's Hospital
- In San Ġwann there is Karin Grech Garden which contains a sculpture of her.
- "Peace to those who left us and have a connection to the politics of Malta" (Maltese)
- Lino German, controversial stalwart of the Maltese medical profession
- The Reminder (eyewitness account of an attending physician and colleague of Prof. Grech)
- Karen Grech Crosses. 1978-2001