Wednesday

29th Sep 2021

Malta responsible for journalist's death, inquiry finds

  • Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassination by a car bomb in October 2017 (Photo: Enrique Íñiguez Rodríguez)

The Maltese state was responsible for the death of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, according to an independent inquiry.

The finding was part of a 437-page report published Thursday (29 July), prepared by a panel of judges.

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  • The report highlighted a culture of impunity, enabled under the leadership of former prime minister Joseph Muscat (Photo: eu2017mt/Flickr)

It highlighted a culture of impunity, enabled under the leadership of former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

"The state should shoulder responsibility for the assassination," said the report.

It detailed how the state had created "an atmosphere of impunity", which then spread to other institutions leading to a collapse in the rule of law.

Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in October 2017, following years of hard-hitting reporting on corruption on her Running Commentary blog.

That included allegations linking Muscat to the Panama Papers, a media probe that exposed tax havens used by the wealthy.

At the time of her killing, she was investigating an Electrogas energy deal.

Her death sparked outrage in Malta and abroad and eventually led to Muscat's resignation in early 2020, who once described her as "the only opposition in the country."

Muscat, for his part, accepted but also cast doubt on the findings.

Although the report did not offer any proof of direct government involvement in her death, it did say it contributed by creating a "favourable climate" for her elimination.

"Whoever planned and carried out the assassination did so in the knowledge they would be protected by those who had an interest in silencing the journalist," said the report.

It also said the state had created an "unwarranted closeness" between the government and big business.

It said the state had "failed to recognise the real and immediate risks" to her life and neglected to act for her protection.

The report and its findings are a separate process from the ongoing criminal case.

"It remains extremely important to closely monitor the ongoing criminal proceedings," said the Paris-based NGO, Reporters without Borders (RSF), in a statement.

One of the three men accused of murdering Caruana Galizia was earlier this year sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Others have yet to go to trial, including Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech who was caught trying to flee Malta on a yacht.

Prosecutors says Fenech, who had close government ties, masterminded the murder plot. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Caruana Galizia's family issued a statement, welcoming the findings of the report.

"Her assassination was a direct result of the collapse of the rule of law and the impunity that the state provided to the corrupt network she was reporting on," they said.

Since Caruana Galizia's assassination, Malta has fallen 34 places in RSF's World Press Freedom Index. It currently ranks 81st out of 180 countries.

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