The family of murdered Maltese schoolgirl Lisa Marie Zahra have issued an emotional statement following her killer’s conviction.
The 15-year-old was found dead at Dingli Cliffs in 2014 in a tragedy that shocked Malta.
Erin Tanti, her drama teacher who became her lover, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting in court that he killed her.
In a statement on Facebook, Lisa Marie’s cousin Winston J Zahra said ‘the family always knew it was murder’.
He wrote: ‘This morning, five years and three months after the tragic death of my cousin, Erin Tanti finally pleaded guilty in court to murdering Lisa Maria.
‘He was her teacher, she was his student. He was an adult, she was a beautiful 15 year old child.
‘It is impossible to comprehend what possesses people to carry out such atrocities.
‘As a family, from all the evidence we had seen, we always knew this was a case of murder but we could not speak about it due to court proceedings.
‘Now that Tanti is behind bars for a very long time, we can close this chapter and continue to focus on the work carried out by The Lisa Maria Foundation which we set up with an objective to help safeguard children, most especially through working to ensure that people who have a duty of care towards children are properly screened and checked.
‘As a family we would like to thank everyone for all the overwhelming support we have received over this difficult period.
‘Our legal team, the police, the team at the attorney general’s office and all our friends who have been of immense support. Thank you.’