Journalists condemn murder of Maltese colleague

By Agencies
October 18, 2017

Journalists across Europe have condemned the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist and blogger whose allegations about government corruption led to early elections last June.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have all called for a swift and thorough investigation. 

Caruana Galizia was killed when a bomb placed under her car exploded as she drove away from her home in Bidnija, in the north of the island of Malta.

A specialist in investigating corruption, she had dedicated many blog posts to linking associates of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to offshore accounts exposed by the Panama Papers. She also accused the prime minister’s wife, Michelle Muscat, of opening an account in Panama to receive bribes paid by Azerbaijan in exchange for permission for an Azeri bank to operate in Malta.

“We are outraged by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder and offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and colleagues,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “We had condemned previous attacks on this investigative journalist, whose bank accounts were also blocked as a result of her revelations.

“RSF urges the Maltese authorities to shed all possible light on her murder and to identify those responsible. This is dark day for Maltese democracy, freedom of expression and journalism.”

Caruana Galizia had reported receiving threats to the police just two weeks ago, according to Maltese media outlets. Her English-language 'Running Commentary' blog would often get more readers than all of the Maltese newspapers, for which she also occasionally wrote. Less than an hour before her death, she had posted yet another piece about alleged corruption involving a Maltese politician.

The journalist had been sued many times for her blog posts in which she revealed several corruption scandals involving Maltese politicians. In 2016, she was named by Politico as one of "28 people who are shaping, shaking and stirring Europe", after being the first to break news of Maltese politicians’ involvement in the Panama Papers leak.

In February this year, The EFJ denounced the freezing of her bank accounts and libel suits filed against her by the Maltese economy minister and his consultant, following a report revealing that both men visited a brothel during an official trip in Germany.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, EFJ president, said, “We are appalled by yet another killed journalist in Europe. This killing and its circumstances must be swiftly and thoroughly investigated. It reminds us that the safety of journalists must still be considered a priority in the European Union.”

Malta is ranked 47th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

* Reporters Without Borders https://rsf.org/en

* National Union of Journalists https://www.nuj.org.uk/home/

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