Family of Murdered Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are demanding a public inquiry
The sister of late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Corinne Vella, confirmed the family will continue to fight for justice and have formally requested a public inquiry into her murder and years of intimidation in Malta, under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Caruana Galizia, the renowned investigative journalist of thirty years was assassinated near her home by a car bomb on 16 October last year. She was the only journalist in Malta who was holding power to account and as corruption increased in the country, so did Daphne’s reporting.
At the Byline festival in Nutley, Sussex, Corinne Vella spoke eloquently of her late sister: “Zero tolerance for corruption was once a political joke in Malta, but this ended up becoming exactly what my sister stood for.
“There is no time for grieving until we find justice, every morning I wake up it is hell, every day is hell.”
Corinne confirmed the family have formally requested a public inquiry to look into whether Daphne’s life could have been saved, and into how to prevent future deaths. To comply with human rights law, the inquiry would have to be independent of state control.
More than thirty outstanding lawsuits remain in place against Daphne and her family, and journalists, Juliette Garside, and Stephen Grey, joined the panel with Corinne to discuss the significant investigative work Daphne completed and the current murder investigation into her death.
Juliette Garside, financial correspondent for The Guardian, said: “In fact the work Daphne did was one of the most extraordinary revelations from the Panama papers.
“Daphne found that the newly elected Energy Minister, Konrad Mizzi and Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri, from Joseph Muscat’s government – had their names added to offshore companies created in Panama, just a few weeks after entering office.
“This caused a huge political storm at the time.”
Juliette and Stephen have joined Forbidden Stories, The Daphne Project, which is independent from the Caruana Galizia family, in order to continue the investigative work of Daphne and other silenced, imprisoned, and murdered journalists.
Juliette said: “It has been a privilege to work on Daphne’s stories as what happened in Malta has resonance from beyond the borders of what is the EU’s smallest member state.
“Daphne looked closely into the fact that Malta was selling citizenship, and her reporting also brought into the fore the issue of the lack of transparency in tax havens and how this allows dark money to flow through and illicit payments of bribery and corruption.”
One of the banks Daphne had been investigating, the Pilatus Bank was closed down this year for money laundering and she alleged Azerbaijan’s IIham Aliyev’s daughter’s company paid over one million dollars to an account in Dubai held by the Panama-registered company, Egrant Inc, allegedly held by the Prime Minister’s wife, Michelle Muscat.
A magisterial inquiry found no evidence to support the allegations, and at present there are two magisterial inquiries into the activities of the Prime Minister’s closet aides, Keith Schembri and his minister Konrad Mizzi.
Juliette, recalled: “The most powerful clients of one of the banks Daphne reported upon included the ruling family of Azerbaijan, as they were using the bank to buy up assets in France and London.
“When Daphne died there were over forty lawsuits against her, and the point of foreign court action against a journalist is to silence them.
“There are no anti-laundering laws internationally, and in Malta the last nine months since Daphne’s death have been worse than ever.”
Stephen Grey, Reuters special projects correspondent, said: “Among our generation we do know a lot of friends, journalists who have been killed.
“There are 45 international journalists working on the Forbidden Stories Daphne Project and the principle here is you kill one journalist - and you get 45.
“There cannot be impunity in general, and that need for collaboration comes across very strongly when you look into the murder case and also the issues Daphne was investigating.”
Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated ten months ago and there are currently two investigations in Malta, a police investigation and a magistrate’s inquiry, while three alleged hitmen have been charged and await trial.
But who ordered the killing of the investigative journalist of thirty years?
Stephen explained: “There are just three or six police officers working on the investigation into the murder of Daphne.
“I am shocked by this, and so you have to highlight this injustice and you have to keep going.
“Another shocking thing is there are so many pieces of information that are not shared between the two investigations.”
Stephen expressed many concerns regarding the lack of investigation into who ordered the killing of the journalist: “There is not a single person who has been interviewed by the inquiry – who Daphne actually wrote about.
“Daphne wrote about the criminalisation of government, and an international investigation into the murder of Daphne is needed.
“There is a wider sense of impunity, and the law enforcement agencies in Europe want to help, however Europol can only act on invitation of the Maltese government.”
During the talk at Byline festival, Corinne read the following excerpts from her sisters blog, www.daphnecaruanagalizia.com, ensuring the late journalists voice will not be forgotten.
By Daphne Caruana Galizia
People marvel at the way the Maltese economy always seems to be thriving, the way buildings are forever popping up and being bought and sold. The way every time there is a bond issue or government stocks it mocks up millions upon millions in liquidity.
Only a fool would think it is all legitimate. I fear organised crime maybe one of the worst sources of corruption, because as it grows it draws into its network key people in the separate powers of the state.
It is the only way organised crime can grow and survive beyond a certain level and by the look of things it has more than surpassed that level already.
Malta is in a dangerous place, and now we can no longer say that it is corrupt politicians who have brought it to this point.
What no longer can be denied is that those corrupt politicians are a reflection of society.
I know that what I am writing will not make a difference, but I have to write it because somebody has to write. We have to document what’s happening.
Rather than giving into anger or disillusionment it is better, and more consoling, to know that we have done our best to avert the triumph of the undeserving.
For years I have been a target of sustained assaults, and not just me but also my sons and other members of my family, across all the media, broadcast, print, the internet, official and unofficial.
There are thousands of people out there who have never read a word I have written, and yet they hate me because they have been exposed to two and a half decades of propaganda which has told them they should hate me, even though they have no real idea why.
They don’t know what I write. But they know they should hate me and insult me.
I have been doing this for so long now that my sons now all aged 30 or thereabouts know nothing else.
One of them was in nappies when I started writing a newspaper column, the other two were in kinder garden, they grew up thinking it was completely normal to have your mother’s name all over the newspapers, and on the tip of politician’s tongues.
To have your house set on fire.
To have police at your gate, either to guard your mother or to arrest her.
To have your mother check the underside of the car for bombs before taking you to school.
To answer the home telephone to find some anonymous nutjob shouting obscenities at you when you’re only 8-years-old.
To see your mother ripped to shreds on television, portrayed a witch in newspapers and gossiped about endlessly and viscously by people you know and their parents on Facebook.
But as long as I was singled out for assault, no other journalists bothered.
I will say this to my fellow journalists, the worst thing you can do when you see another journalist under assault by the government or the opposition is to sink your head below the parapet hoping that the same thing will not happen to you.
The solution is not to avoid becoming inconvenient but to fight back.
What is the point of having freedom of speech if you can’t use it to say that the people who govern you are crooks.
Never give into authority just because it is authority.
If a law is in itself illegal, if it violates fundamental principles of human rights and liberties, then you are not obliged to obey it - on the contrary it is your duty not to do so.
It’s true that life is unfair and that much of it can’t be helped, but where I can do anything to avoid unfairness, or to set it straight, then I will.
I cannot bear the thought of injustice, still less the realty of it.
It’s the nature of my personality to think in terms of do your worst you bastards, until the only option left to you is to take out a contract on my life.
They would gladly see me dead, which appears to be the only way that I will shut up.
There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.