Maltese state should ‘shoulder responsibility’ for Caruana Galizia murder: Inquiry
Report says government created 'favorable climate' for anyone who wanted to 'eliminate' journalist.
The Maltese state should be held responsible for the death of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, according to a public inquiry into her murder.
The inquiry, the results of which were published Thursday, found no evidence that the government was directly involved in the killing, the Times of Malta reported. But it was damning of the government, led at the time by former MEP Joseph Muscat, describing a “favorable climate” for anyone who wanted to “eliminate” the controversial journalist and blogger, who was killed by a car bomb near her home in October 2017.
“The state should shoulder responsibility for the assassination,” according to the report compiled by three senior current and former judges. “It created an atmosphere of impunity, generated from the highest echelons of the administration inside Castille [the office of the prime minister], the tentacles of which then spread to other institutions, such as the police and regulatory authorities, leading to a collapse in the rule of law.”
The 437-page report (mostly in Maltese) also says the state failed to recognize or act upon the clear risks to Caruana Galizia’s life as the result of her investigative journalism, particularly in the wake of her work on the Panama Papers, which ensnared Muscat and his wife Michelle.
The report described an “obvious” need to protect Caruana Galizia, who had become the target of sustained abuse by politicians. The failure to protect her “cannot be simple incompetence or indifference,” the judges wrote.
“It can never be acceptable for entities of the state to involve themselves or promote such happenings. The state has an obligation to defend in every possible way the lives of journalists, the fundamental right to free speech, even when a journalist expresses tough opinions against the government of the day,” the report says.
This led to “a climate in which those who wished to and managed to eliminate her found the perfect occasion to do so. 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.”
The report also takes aim at the government’s too-close relationship with business, saying, “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s writing about the intimacy between big business and politics led to her assassination.”
Muscat stepped down in early 2020, replaced as Labour Party leader and prime minister by Robert Abela, who wrote on Twitter on Thursday that the report “merits mature analysis beyond partisan arguments. Lessons must be drawn and the reforms must continue with greater resolve.”
In February this year, Vincent Muscat — who is not related to the former prime minister — became the first person to be convicted of the killing. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
Two brothers also accused of involvement in the murder, George and Alfred Degiorgio, have requested presidential pardons. A fourth man, prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech, has been charged with organizing and financing the killing.