Malta: doubts about reports on investigation success in Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case

By Iris Rohmann

Maltese investigators say they are closing in on the masterminds of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder. But there are contradictory reports.

Daphne Caruana Galizia Daphne Caruana Galizia

On Sunday morning, the "Sunday Times of Malta" made headlines with what looked like a surprising turn in the stalled Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case. It said that Maltese investigators, in close collaboration with Europol, identified the masterminds of the car bomb attack which killed the famous journalist on 16 October, 2017. The daily further quoted investigation insiders saying they would be dealing with „a group of more than two Maltese citizens“ who did co-operate „for different reasons“ to eliminate the journalist. The article further spoke of „a very advanced state“ of the investigation. On Monday morning, Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia confirmed the report in an interview on Italian TV.

However, neither names were given nor further details provided if the suspects came from the criminal, business or political world, or if foreign actors such as Azerbaijan or the Mafia were involved. Since December 2017, three alleged offenders are in pre-trial confinement in Valletta. The evidence against them is overwhelming, however Maltese police assumed from day one that they were merely henchmen as they lack any motive.

Family not formally informed 

Already on Sunday, relatives of Daphne Caruana Galizia expressed their scepticism regarding the new developments. They have not been "formally" informed. The family expressed its frustration about not being informed about the investigations at all. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew, who is ceaselessly investigating his mother’s assassination, said in an interview with the UK Sunday Times, that police are scarcely communicating with the family, “it’s a mixture of incompetence, disrespect and outright disdain for us and what we’re trying to do".

Ever since the murder, there has been attempts by the Maltese Government to prevent any commemoration of the journalist and blogger. Besides the continuous destruction of a makeshift memorial in Valletta, social media groups close to the government keep slandering her memory and even suspected her family to have commissioned the assassination. For a year now, the government refrains from answering any critical question about those continuing smear campaigns and hate speech against Caruana Galizia.

To this day, government representatives portrait Daphne Caruana Galizia as public enemy no 1 for disclosing corruption at the highest political levels, especially in the currently governing Labour party. However, none of her investigations concerning the Panama Papers has lead to resignations or even police inquiries.

"Not true"

In Malta, the reactions to the report on the new investigation success by one of the country's biggest dailies are very different. People ask why it was published even before any suspects were detained. One theory says it is to warn the alleged offenders and to give them time to cover their tracks, as Maltese lawyer Justin Borg-Barthet wrote on Twitter.

On Monday, Reuters correspondent Stephen Grey contradicted the newspaper version by posting on Twitter that his sources inside the Maltese authorities straight-out denied any new investigation success. There were no actual suspects but every lead would be investigated, he was told.

Another theory says that the sensational headline is supposed to distract from heavy corruption allegations against members of the government regarding dislosures about a company called 17 Black and the Panama Papers. Once again, people demand the resignation of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi (the only government member mentioned in the Panama Papers by name) and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Malta, Keith Schembri, as there is evidence that they were owning off-shore companies in Panama. And according to current media disclosure millions of euros were funneled by 17 Black through their firms. 17 Black is owned by a Maltese business man with strong ties to the government. Daphne Caruana Galizia did already report on this, but for obvious reasons she was not able to follow through.

Meanwhile Europol neither confirmed nor disclaimed the „Sunday Times of Malta“ report. Also Maltese police did not react to an enquiry as did the author of the piece, Ivan Martin. He could not be reached for comment.

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Source information: This article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom –