The public inquiry into the Corradino building collapse, which claimed the life of 20-year-old Jean Paul Sofia, began with a powerful testimony from his mother, Isabelle Bonnici. Her emotional plea for answers resonated with a nation grappling with the loss of yet another life to a construction tragedy.
Isabelle Bonnici, the first witness to take the stand, bravely shared the devastating journey that culminated in the loss of her son. With tears in her eyes and a heavy heart, she recounted the harrowing 16-hour ordeal that led to the recovery of her son’s lifeless body from the rubble of a factory under construction. Her voice trembling, she described Jean Paul Sofia as a vibrant, healthy young man with a promising future ahead—a future abruptly and unfairly stolen.
“He had a life, a whole future, another victim of construction, another Miriam Pace,” Bonnici declared before the inquiry board, drawing a poignant parallel to another construction tragedy that shook the nation’s conscience. These words echoed the collective sentiment of a society tired of witnessing young lives lost due to preventable construction accidents.
The details of the fateful day were laid bare—Jean Paul Sofia had left home that morning, expressing his love for his mother as he embarked on his daily routine. Little did they know that this routine would lead to his untimely demise. Urged by his boss and developer Matthew Schembri, Jean Paul had visited the construction site to deliver tools. What followed was a catastrophe that would leave a family shattered and a nation grieving.
Isabelle Bonnici’s grief-stricken journey did not end with the collapse; it was compounded by misinformation and false hope. Initially informed by a police officer that her son was safe and receiving medical attention, the truth later emerged—the devastating reality that Jean Paul had not survived the collapse. “He was the centre of my life,” she expressed with a heavy heart, encapsulating the profound loss she and her family have endured.
The commencement of the public inquiry comes after a relentless campaign by Isabelle Bonnici, who garnered widespread support from the public and compelled Prime Minister Robert Abela to relent and initiate the investigation. Bonnici’s determination is fuelled by a deep-seated desire for systemic change. “I want the system to be investigated and spell out any shortcomings and failures…I don’t want other parents to go through what we are going through,” she asserted.
The inquiry promises a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the building collapse and, importantly, a broader assessment of the state’s responsibility in safeguarding the lives of workers on construction sites. Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana also testified on the inquiry’s first day, underlining the gravity of the situation.