Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'

  • The European Parliament named a room after the slain Maltese journalist (Photo: European Parliament)

Malta has said it has enough evidence to put on trial the three men accused of killing Daphne Caruana Galizia, its best-known journalist, a year and a half ago.

But the trial will do nothing to shed light on who ordered the killing, her family says, amid international calls for an independent enquiry into the case.

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  • Graffiti in Malta has also voiced frustration on lack or rule of law (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

The Maltese attorney general issued an indictment against the three suspects in Valetta on Tuesday (16 July) - just a few days before the expiry of a legal deadline that would have set them free on bail.

It is not known when the trial will begin.

But its remit will be to cover only the accusations that the men - Vincent Muscat, and Alfred and George Degiorgio - planted and detonated the car bomb that killed her on 16 October 2017.

Caruana Galizia was assassinated after publishing revelations that senior Maltese government figures were involved in bribery and money-laundering linked to Azerbaijan and Russia, prompting speculation that the masterminds of the attack had links to high-level corruption.

But the trial will do nothing to shed light on any of that, unless one of the suspects suddenly "decides to talk", Caruana Galizia's son, Matthew, told EUobserver also on Tuesday.

They have not done so yet despite being in police custody since December 2017 in what Matthew Caruana Galizia said showed lack of "political will" in Malta to get to the bottom of the case.

"Justice moves incredibly slowly in Malta, even in a case as important a this," he said.

He drew a contrast with Slovak police, who arrested the suspected killers of Jan Kuciak, also an investigative journalist looking into high-level corruption, in September last year and who got enough evidence to charge the alleged mastermind, a Slovak business tycoon, by March this year.

"This shows that where there is political will then the authorities are able to do this," Matthew Caruana Galizia said.

"If they could do it in Slovakia, there's no reason why they cannot do the same in Malta without resorting to a pardon or a plea bargain ... the police should be able to apply enough pressure in the right places to obtain the evidence they need from a hitman," he added.

For their part, EU institutions in Brussels and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, a human rights watchdog, have been following the Maltese case amid concern that the island lacks normal rule of law.

The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly also said in a resolution in June that Malta should hold "an independent public inquiry" into the affair by no later than 26 September.

It was appalled by the "extreme weakness" of the Maltese judicial system.

It was also disturbed by the "climate of impunity" for people who were "suspected of being involved in or benefiting from the scandals exposed by Daphne Caruana Galizia and her colleagues".

Matthew Caruana Galizia said the public enquiry might find out "who might have expressed a wish to have my mother murdered" and not just who executed an instruction.

The Maltese EU embassy notified press in Brussels on Tuesday that the trial of the three men was to begin as part of its ongoing PR campaign for the Maltese government over the scandal.

But Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, whose family was named in Caruana Galizia's articles, has not yet decided how to answer the Council of Europe's call.

"There has to be an enquiry - it's not just me who thinks so, it's the Council of Europe", Matthew Caruana Galizia told EUobserver.

"By ignoring the Council, the Maltese government would be unfairly pitting our country in a fight against one of the most respected human rights bodies in the world just to protect the criminal masterminds or any criminals in government who might be implicated in my mother's murder," he said.

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