The battle over a murdered journalist

Tourist routes, the justice system and Maltese history intersect where activists set up a memorial to push for answers in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. One year on, authorities have tried to remove it from sight.

Background

Daphne Caruana Galizia, nicknamed the ‘one-woman WikiLeaks’, was the most famous investigative journalist in Malta. She was known for her insistence on unearthing and denouncing corrupt Maltese politicians, despite facing decades of intimidation, threats and lawsuits against her, and being arrested twice by the Maltese police.

One year ago today, a man broke into Daphne Caruana Galizia's car. He placed a bomb under the driver's seat, relocked the door and walked away. When Ms Caruana Galizia drove away from her home the bomb was remotely detonated. One of her sons saw his mother's car explode. When he ran to the site where the little rented Peugeot had landed, 80 metres from the road, he found twisted metal and body parts.

She was commemorated in a memorial outside the Courts of Justice building, but multiple government officials have spoken out against the memorial in this highly visible place.

Analysis

Ms Caruana Galizia had been writing about Maltese political corruption and acquired an influence few journalists achieve. The 53-year-old’s popular blog Running Commentary relentlessly investigated Maltese kleptocracy, clientelism, nepotism, tax evasion, and other criminal activity such as use of the island by Russian oligarchs for money laundering and Libyan syndicates as a base for smuggling oil to southern Europe. This could be part of the reason commemorative items have frequently been removed, and her memorial disturbed.

Activist, blogger and former Nationalist politician Manuel Delia, who speaks at the monthly rallies and has placed banners at the memorial, filed a constitutional case after commemorative items were taken away 17 times.

Officials' statements on why the memorial has been repeatedly removed or blocked from view have not satisfied critics.

Lamenting the lack of coverage of the fallout from Caruana Galizia’s murder in state media and the climate for journalists in an opinion piece for the Times of Malta this week, fellow Maltese blogger Manuel Delia recounted receiving threats and accusations of treachery for talking about Caruana Galizia’s assassination to foreign media.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the increase in worldwide attempts to silence journalists, and subsequent attempts to hinder investigations, is severely detrimental to the goal of a free and just society.