Europe

Caruana Galizia: Malta criticised over journalist murder probe

A memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Daphne Caruana Galizia had published a popular blog alleging official corruption

A human rights watchdog has strongly criticised Malta's authorities for failing to properly investigate the death of a prominent anti-corruption journalist by a car bomb in 2017.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed when the bomb, planted under her seat, was detonated while she was driving.

Maltese officials were among those being investigated by Caruana Galizia.

The report states that not enough had been done to ensure an independent investigation into her murder.

Issued by the Council of Europe, the report follows a year-long investigation and states that the Maltese authorities failed to expose those who ordered the killing.

It concludes that the rule of law in Malta has been undermined by a dysfunctional judicial and police system, with an anti-corruption body that is "utterly ineffective".

The report calls for a complete reform of the role of the prime minister, alleging that the office has too much institutional control to allow for effective judicial independence. It says that the current incumbent, Joseph Muscat, failed to properly investigate members of his own government.

The Maltese government responded that the report was "riddled with inaccurate and gratuitous statements exposing a very biased agenda which is not based on the true picture of the matter".

The report "represents the very biased views of a small fraction of Maltese opposition politicians", it added.

A murder that stunned Malta

Caruana Galizia, 53, who was known for her blog accusing top politicians of corruption, was killed by a car bomb close to her home in October 2017.

Three suspects - the brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio and their friend Vince Muscat - were arrested in a massive police operation soon after the killing and are accused of triggering the bomb.

But a trial has not yet begun and they could soon be released, while nobody has been arrested for ordering the murder.

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Media captionAndrew Borg Cardona: 'My friend has been killed there'

A Maltese MP last year accused a police sergeant of tipping off suspects in the murder of their impending arrest.

Jason Azzopardi, also a lawyer for Caruana Galizia's family in the case against the three men, said the suspects had thrown their mobile phones into the sea before the police arrived.

Prime-ministerial spokesman Kurt Farrugia dismissed the accusations as "lies".

One of Caruana Galizia's sons, Matthew, also an investigative journalist, has accused the authorities of negligence for failing to prevent the "assassination" and branded Malta "a mafia state".

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