Saturday

2nd Mar 2024

Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter

  • Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat issued his offer on Wednesday (Photo: Consilium)

Malta's leader has offered to end a posthumous libel case against a murdered journalist only if her family say she was wrong to have accused him.

"I would be ready to drop this libel case if the Caruana Galizia family make a declaration to the effect that they accept the findings of the Egrant Inquiry," Maltese prime minister Jospeh Muscat said in a letter to the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog based in France, which was made public on Thursday (19 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Car bomb killed Daphne Caruana Galizia in November 2017, but mastermind of crime never identified (Photo: Continentaleurope)

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in 2017 after accusing top government figures, including Muscat and his wife, of involvement in corruption schemes.

The Egrant Inquiry "exonerated me and my family" Muscat said, and its findings had been "made public", he added.

But in fact, the enquiry, by an independent magistrate, did not exonerate anybody because its findings had no juridical status.

The 1,500-page report and its supporting documents were also never made public, even though Malta's attorney general did disclose excerpts which showed Muscat in a good light.

And Muscat's offer amounted to "blackmail", Caruana Galizia's family said in a statement the same day.

"We will not concede to extortion by our public servants. Our position on not accepting blackmail will never change," the family said.

Muscat wrote to the Council of Europe in response to an appeal by its human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic, earlier this month, to leave the slain journalist's family in peace.

There were still some 30 other active civil defamation claims against her family, Mijatovic noted.

The situation meant "her heirs could be expected to reveal information on her journalistic work and sources" in order to escape damages, he said.

It also "put unwarranted psychological and financial pressure" on her bereaved sons and husband, he added.

"The current legal provisions, which allow the passing of defamation cases to heirs ... have a chilling effect on investigative journalism," he also said.

"Continuing these claims ... raises questions regarding the Maltese authorities' commitment to finding and bringing the masterminds of this horrendous crime to justice," Mijatovic said.

Muscat, in Thursday's reply, also refused to repeal the law that permits posthumous lawsuits or to help quash the other 30 open cases.

He did it on grounds that people who had been defamed had a right to clear their names even if their accuser was dead.

"The government cannot interfere in ... civil actions started by third parties and private citizens against the heirs of a deceased journalist who have accepted the inheritance [of that journalist's estate]", Muscat said.

Three men have been charged with planting and detonating the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia, but almost two years after her assassination, which shocked Europe, Maltese authorities appear to be no closer to saying who ordered it.

And the slow pace shows there is no political will in Valetta to solve the crime, her son, Matthew Caruana Galizia, told EUobserver in July.

Noting that Slovak police had managed to solve a similar case in under a year, "this shows that where there is political will then the authorities are able to do this," he said.

"If they could do it in Slovakia, there's no reason why they cannot do the same in Malta," he added.

Opinion

Malta must act quickly to avoid blacklisting

Some EU member states' law-enforcement agencies are incapable of mounting even basic financial crime enquiries - especially Malta, where allegations of personal and political corruption continue to propagate, and an investigative journalist has been assassinated.

Latest News

  1. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  2. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  3. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  4. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  5. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  6. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  7. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  8. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us