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01.02.2018

Caruana Galizia family brings Constitutional Court case with NGOs support

By Emil Weber

A Constitutional Court proceeding has been taking place since 22 November 2017. The family of Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia has requested the removal of the Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta from the investigation of her murder. 

Caruana Galizia family brings Constitutional Court case Memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta

The family argues that there is a conflict of interest involved as Mr. Valletta represents the police on the board of Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and he is married to a member of parliament, the Minister for Gozo Justine Caruana, from the current governing party.

Ms. Therese Comodini Cachia, a human rights lawyer representing the family pro bono together with Azzopardi, told ECPMF that they are arguing at the Constitutional Court that the deputy police commissioner is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP).

“In addition, Ms. Caruana Galizia wrote several times about the FIAU as well as his [Valletta’s] wife in her office as Minister and therefore his involvement in the investigation cannot be taken to fulfil the requirements of objectivity and impartiality”, Ms. Comodini Cachia, herself an opposition member of the Parliament, told ECPMF.

A politically exposed person (PEP) is an individual who is or has been entrusted with a prominent public function.

On Monday, January 29, the  Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr. Valletta, speaking at a Constitutional Court hearing, said that he “could not exclude the possibility” that Ms. Caruana Galizia’s murder was ordered from a politically exposed person. He dismissed arguments of potential partiality on his behalf.

The Civil Society Network (CSN) has backed Mr. Valletta’s removal:

His involvement in the investigation concerning a murder of this nature is depriving the Maltese of the certainty that police investigations regarding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are conducted with the objectivity and impartiality”

Mr. Jonathan Ferris, a former investigator with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, who had been looking at Ms. Caruana Galizia’s stories on Panama Papers and was then removed, recently told the BBC that he fears for life.

He said that he has distributed envelopes containing information to several members of his family and should something happen to him, the information would immediately come out.

Family members temporarily abroad for security reasons

Ms. Caruana Galizia is survived by three sons - Matthew (journalist), Andrew (diplomat) and Paul (economist).

Andrew was recalled from his diplomatic posting in New Delhi with two weeks’ notice, immediately following the Malta elections on 3 June. The snap elections were held following corruption allegations including some in articles published by Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Matthew drove the same car that his mother had rented the day before the murder. After the death of Ms. Caruana Galizia, Matthew and Andrew left Malta in November 2017 for security reasons.

“Ideally we would have been there this whole time because it’s hard to monitor the investigation remotely”, Matthew told ECPMF. “It is extremely distressing that we find things out from the news and that we have little contact with the police. They haven’t responded to a single one of our letters [concerning the investigations].”

Paul was already living in London. He met the Council of Europe Rapporteur on the Safety of Journalists Lord Foulkes there on 30 January. Ms. Caruana Galizia’s husband Peter is a lawyer and lives in Malta.

International community backs the investigation

The investigation of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s murder is being closely watched by several international NGOs, freedom of expression defenders and journalists’ organisations such as Article 19, Pen International, International Press Institute, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Reporters without Borders, Index on Censorship, International/European Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists and Transparency International.

Joint advocacy actions are underway to support the family, mobilise European and national parliamentarians, raise public awareness and call for a proper investigation of the case.

In London, a vigil was held in front of the Maltese embassy three months after the murder and further vigils are foreseen in other European cities.

The NGOs supported the family to get a motion at a PACE delegation meeting in Strasbourg in late January to demand the creation of a Special Rapporteur to investigate the case. In Brussels, advocacy work is in progress towards Anti-Slapp legislation. The organisations are active with social-media campaigns, mainly under the hashtags #NoImpunity and #WhoKilledDaphne. They are also willing to assist with financial, legal and technical assistance and expertise.

In addition to instructing criminal lawyers in Malta, the family has also instructed international human rights lawyers. They will advise on Malta’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to conduct a public inquiry into whether the assassination could have been avoided and on the protection of press freedom in Malta.

The family’s human rights lawyers are Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jonathan Price of Doughty St Chambers, instructed by Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors. The ECPMF has backed the defence with 3,500 Euros to cover the legal costs of the international lawyers.

Ms. Therese Comodini Cachia, the lawyer, appreciates the role of international community. “The international community plays an important role in enforcing human rights standards. Without the pressure from international community, no country will keep high standards of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression”.

 

 





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