Malta responsible for journalist death – inquiry

Daphne Caruana Galizia
Only a handful of people have been charged over Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder

A public inquiry into the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has found the state responsible for her death.

The report said the state had failed to recognize risks to the reporter’s life and take reasonable steps to avoid them. Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack near her home in October 2017.

An investigation led to PM Joseph Muscat’s resignation in 2019 after his close associates were implicated.

However, he has denied corruption allegations. Called a “one-woman Wikileaks”, Caruana Galizia uncovered networks of corruption in the country and abroad.

Aged 53 when she died, she spent 30 years as a journalist. She relentlessly accused Maltese politicians and other officials of corruption in her popular Running Commentary blog.

She was a harsh critic of government. In 2017 she effectively triggered an early election by publishing allegations linking Mr Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal, which exposed the use of tax havens by the rich.

Caruana Galizia’s family sought an independent public inquiry into her murder. Mr Muscat gave it the go-ahead, a few months before he resigned.

In the last two years, the inquiry has heard from dozens of witnesses, including investigators, politicians and journalists.

In its conclusions, written up in a 437-page report, it said the state had “created an atmosphere of impunity, generated by the highest echelons”.

It cited an “unwarranted closeness” between big business and government. The report also made recommendations to improve laws and better protect journalists in Malta.

So far only a handful of individuals have been charged. In February, one of three men accused of murdering Caruana Galizia pleaded guilty and was jailed for 15 years. The others are yet to go to trial.

A fourth person, Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, has also been charged with complicity over the killing – an allegation he denies.

He was arrested in November 2019 as he tried to sail away from Malta on a yacht, and is now awaiting trial. After Caruana Galizia’s assassination, her son Paul hit out at what he called the country’s “mafia state”. His mother had been killed “because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it”, he said.

In a statement on Thursday, her family said: “We hope that its findings will lead to the restoration of the rule of law in Malta”.

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