Erin Tanti The police investigation into the death of 15-year-old Lisa Maria Zahra is focusing on two notes, believed to be the last messages left by the teenager and a 23-year-old supply teacher who is still undergoing intensive care at Mater Dei Hospital.
Zahra and Erin Tanti were found on Wednesday, 19 March in an area called Taâ€™ Zuta, at Dingli Cliffs, after they had been first reported missing to the police.
Zahra was found dead, believed to be from injuries incurred in a fall, while Tanti suffered extensive injuries incurred in a fall at a spot that was some distance away from where Zahra was found.
"Supportline 179 is run by a team of professionally trained volunteers" Appogg Supportline MaltaToday was told by two police sources connected to the investigation that both Zahra, a pupil of the St Michaelâ€™s Foundation, and Tanti, a supply teacher of drama, each left a message to their loved ones.
This newspaper is not aware of the contents of these messages.
But new facts have emerged of the picture that preceded the tragic fall.
The first missing personâ€™s report was filed at the police station at Valletta, by Tantiâ€™s sister. Tanti was at the time acting in the play Festen, adapted to the stage by the Masquerade theatre company.
Police have also established which pharmacy in Valletta Tanti is believed to have purchased a substantial amount of aspirin tablets.
Zahraâ€™s family have also said that it was Tanti who drove his car to Dingli, with Zahra as his passenger.
In the whereabouts of Dingli, police say they found a bottle of whisky in Tantiâ€™s car that suggests the two drank and took aspirin before the tragic incident.
The two persons were found on Wednesday19 March, after Tanti â€" who survived the fall because it may have been interrupted â€" managed to alert passers-by to his predicament. He was found to be suffering from serious injuries,and sent to Mater Deiâ€™s ITU where hewas in critical condition.
Education minister Evarist Bartolo has said that the Council for the Teaching Profession, the body tasked with investigating complaints of misconduct by teachers, was â€œobligedâ€ to investigate Tanti over any alleged breach of ethics over his relationship with the 15-year-old pupil.
â€œUpon the conclusion of the police investigation, the Council for the Teaching Profession not only has the right but also the duty to investigate any complaint of gross negligence or breach of ethics,"Bartolo told MaltaToday on the case.
Tanti, who was pursuing a theatre studies degree at the University of Malta until 2013, had been a drama tutor for the Masquerade theatre company since 2012, and was recently drafted in as a supply teacher at the St Michaelâ€™s Foundation, a private school, having worked there for the past three months.
The teachersâ€™ code of ethics, established by the Council for the Teaching Profession, says teachers are duty-bound and responsible to maintain a professional distance while in school and out of school.
It also calls on teachers to avoid any inappropriate communication and relationships with students. Moreover, teachers are bound to â€˜have regard to the safety of students under their responsibilityâ€™.
The funeral of 15-year-old Lisa Maria Zahra, which was expected to be held Saturday in Valletta, was postponed on a magistrateâ€™s order.
The court decided to postpone the funeral to ensure that all investigations are concluded before her burial.
The Zahra family claims that Tanti drove the teeanger to Dingli, and have been emphatic about the teacherâ€™s negligence of his duties towards the vulnerable teenager. â€œThe cruel reality is that Lisa Maria Zahra was a vulnerable minor at the age of 15, and Erin Tanti is a 23-year-old teacher with the relevant responsibilities that come with this role,â€ the family said.
â€œThe tragic situation that developed after Tanti drove Lisa Maria to Dingli is one which is still subject to ongoing police investigations and prudence in any commentary, as well as the familyâ€™s privacy in these difficult moments, should be respected at this time.â€
Supportline 179 is the national helpline offering support, information about local social welfare services and other agencies, and a referral service to callers who requires support.
Do call Supportline 179 for assistance on domestic violence, homelessness, suicidal tendencies, marital and/or family problems, loneliness, emotional difficulties, behavioural problems, depression and other mental health issues, human trafficking, substance abuse, gambling, amongst others;
Supportline 179 is run by a team of professionally trained volunteers and receives calls on situations of child abuse, domestic violence, drug/alcohol/gambling problems, amongst others.
All calls received on the EU Emotional Support Helpline 116 123, are also dealt with by the Supportline 179 team.
Helpline 116 123 offers emotional support to callers suffering from loneliness, those who find themselves in a state of psychological crises, and those who require emotional support due to various life situations they might be encountering.
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