The family of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the legal team representing them in Malta and internationally gave a press conference this morning.
It was called following the publication of findings of a two-year investigation into the circumstances of the journalist’s death. She was murdered in 2017 when a car bomb detonated inside the car she was driving, just meters from her home.
For two years, the family and their legal team had to fight for the Maltese authorities to open an inquiry. Ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat flatly refused to submit to such an investigation, stating it wasn’t necessary.
Following significant pressure from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, European Union and Commission, activists, journalists and media, and various NGOs, they agreed to it at the last moment, thus avoiding legal action in the European Court of Human rights.
The inquiry consisted of 98 sittings and 120 witness testimonies. It concluded that the Maltese government, the state, and ex-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should shoulder responsibility for her assassination. Not only could they have prevented it, but they actively aggravated the situation and contributed to the environment in which a journalist could be assassinated.
During today’s press conference, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC at Doughty Street Chambers in the UK said that the international community has some “hard questions to answer” about how they allowed this to happen.
She noted that they were aware of crime and corruption in Malta, as well as the collapse of the rule of law. They were also aware of the risks posed to Daphne during her lifetime including personal attacks, physical attacks, attacks on her home, threats, judicial harassment, and the murder of her dogs.
Furthermore, all of this took place in an EU member state which is also a part of the OSCE, United Nations, and the Council of Europe.
She said that “Malta was allowed to fester” and that there must be a ”process of reflection internationally about how this was allowed to happen under their noses.”
One of Daphne’s three sons, Paul, said that the report had confirmed what they already suspected. He added that if the state had been more responsible, his mother would still be alive today.
“The report confirmed what we long suspected; that the state must bear responsibility for her murder and that she should still be alive today. That really rings in my ears…she should still be alive today.”
One of the most shocking findings in the report was the fact that the government, including the cabinet and Prime Minister’s Office, were complicit in organizing a coordinated campaign against the journalist in order to dehumanize her and delegitimize her investigations, most of which exposed significant corruption amongst politicians, businesses, and criminals. Furthermore, knowing the risks she faced to her safety, they did nothing to provide any protection and actually made the situation worse.
Five years after her assassination, no one has been convicted of masterminding or carrying out the assassination. Court cases are ongoing at the moment.