6 Months — No Justice in Europe’s Pirate State

It has been 6 months since Daphne was murdered in Malta

I still remember where I was when Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered.

I was in Canada visiting family on my first trip home in over 3 years. I caught up on work early that morning, and read Daphne’s most recent batch of articles, as I did every day — including the piece which ended with what would be her last words, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.

The article was uploaded at 2:35pm Maltese time. Daphne left her house soon after she hit “publish,” and she was killed around 3pm when a massive bomb tore apart her car just down the hill from her home.

I was out all day visiting family, without access to wifi, so I hadn’t seen the breaking news stories. I’d just returned to the friend’s home where I was staying, and I felt my phone buzz with a text message as I stepped into the kitchen.

It was from my wife, and it said, “Daphne was killed by a bomb”.

It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget. My first thought, as I felt the blood drain from my face, was that it couldn’t be true. Daphne had been writing about massive corruption at the top of the Maltese government, and she was the only journalist exposing these stories, but I never thought they’d have the nerve to kill her.

Daphne wrote about corruption at the highest levels of Malta’s government

It’s been 6 months since Daphne’s son Matthew heard the massive explosion and ran down the hill from their home to find the burning car, and the pieces of his mother scattered all over the road.

The three men who placed and detonated the bomb — three bottom-feeding Maltese contract killers — were caught after foreign law enforcement teams came to Malta and analyzed cell phone data. They haven’t said a word since their arrest, and the Maltese police have no clue who commissioned the killing.

Daphne had never written about the three men accused of murdering her. I doubt they’d ever read her work, if they can read English at all.

People gathered outside embassies in Berlin, Malta, London, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, and Brussels

She wrote about corruption at the highest levels of the Maltese government, and it is those government officials — the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, his minister for shady deals Konrad Mizzi, the passport peddler’s Henley and Partners, the money laundering Pilatus Bank, and perhaps the Azerbaijan ruling family members who “allegedly” passed money through that bank — who had the most to gain from her silence.

In the 6 months since the brutal killing of Daphne, no Maltese government official has resigned or taken any sort of political responsibility for the murder of a journalist on their watch.

The magisterial inquiries into the most damning of Daphne’s revelations — that the owner of a mysterious Panama company was none other than the wife of the Prime Minister — continue to drag on in silence.

And the government of Joseph Muscat is doing its best to obstruct investigation into any of these cases, as they persecute whistleblowers and unleash bile-spouting government trolls to intimidate opponents and spread misinformation to their followers.

An image of the memorial in Valletta, which has been cleared by government supporters 9 times so far

Muscat’s grip on power in Malta is total. The country has always been completely polarized — you’re either Nationalist or Labour, blue or red — and so anything anyone says against Muscat must be some sort of plot by the other side.

As for the rest, they’re totally fine with corruption as long as they think the economy is good, and that they have money in their pocket. This illusion of economic strength is something Muscat and his inner circle are desperate to maintain.

But 6 months on, the cracks are showing, no thanks to the totally compromised institutions in Malta.

Even the EU has been impotent. They sent a delegation of MEP’s to investigate the rule of law in Malta. The MEP’s stated that they were concerned when they went to Malta, and even more concerned after they left. But apart from a scolding, they’ve done little to change things on the island.

German journalists read quotes from Daphne’s work

But Malta was shaken in recent weeks when Ali Sadr, the young Iranian in charge of Malta’s Pilatus Bank, was arrested by the Americans for money laundering and sanctions busting. He is facing up to 125 years in prison.

Meanwhile, here in Berlin — and in Malta, London, Brussels, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam — we gathered together on the 6 month anniversary of Daphne’s murder to remember this courageous woman, and to demand an end to impunity in Malta.

My wife tells me that, when Daphne was killed, they were able to place flowers and candles on the sidewalk in front of the Embassy of Malta, and against the wall. Naturally enough, the government wouldn’t discourage such actions, not when they could claim some sympathy and pretend to be sad that their most scathing critic had been silenced.

But last night we weren’t able to stand on the sidewalk next to the building, I don’t know why. We couldn’t stand on the street either, and so 30 of us — mostly German journalists, and a few Maltese expats — were herded onto a grassy median between two lanes, with cars whizzing past in the rain.

Unable to approach the Maltese embassy, we were herded onto a grassy median between lanes of traffic

The Labour government of Malta continues to tear down signs and banners on the island, and to spew semi-literate hatred through party-controlled news media.

But no matter how many times they tear down the banners, these questions will not go away:

Why aren’t Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi in prison, Police Commissioner?

Why isn’t your wife being investigated by the police, Joseph Muscat?

Who paid for Daphne Caruana Galizia to be blown up after she asked these questions?

You can find more information here. Please read at least a couple of these articles:

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Running Commentary, the work for which she was killed

Pilatus Bank  

Malta: An Island of Secrets and Lies 

Watch PM Joseph Muscat squirm in this BBC interview (video at the bottom of the article)  

The Embassy of Malta in Berlin, a mafia state on the fringe of the EU

Malta remains an amoral cesspool of corruption on the fringe of the European Union.

Daphne’s killers will only be brought to justice if the outside world intervenes.

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


  • The Fifth Estate is the life blood of Democracy. Thanks Ryan for sharing your commitment to your profession and your friend, and what it represents to people of good will. What a World this could be. So few pay so much toward what could and should be. Your friend’s life was not in vain, her life and your fellows focus on truth and the beauty of life are welcome encouragement to engage and demand accountability in our leadership. Sorry for your loss my friend.

    • Thank you for reading, Michael. I only ever exchanged a handful of emails with Daphne in early 2017, but I had tremendous respect for her work, and for the quality of her prose. The kindness and sincerity evident in those few email exchanges revealed a person I wish I’d had the chance to know.

      I’m not a journalist by any stretch. But I hope to contribute to this story by revealing in my upcoming island book just how a country and a culture arrives at such all-pervasive corruption. I touched on some of that here

  • Thank you for writing about this Mr. Murdock. All that you say is all true. After many years away from the island I forgot how truly polarised Malta was. Now that we are living here we have to deal with it in virtually every aspect of life on the island. You wrote; “And the government of Joseph Muscat is doing its best to obstruct investigation into any of these cases, as they persecute whistleblowers and unleash bile-spouting government trolls to intimidate opponents and spread misinformation to their followers”. This is not only true, but it has become progressively worse especially after the conclusions of the sham magisterial enquiry were published. The situation really is desperate. When you think that the government has reached the pits they manage to prove you wrong.

    I long for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, her family, and all the honest moral Maltese.

    • I’m amazed that it has gone on this long. As you say, it keeps getting worse. Unfortunately, I can’t see any of this ending until things hit bottom and the economy collapses. The majority of the people support corruption and will only turn on Muscat when he stops putting money in their pocket.

      • Sadly I think that you are right. Worse still the opposition is obliterated and lead by a man of very dubious morality. This will leave the country with a destroyed economy and a massive power vacuum- a situation we have seen in many other countries and one which takes years, if not decades to recover from.

  • Just bumped into your blog,very good .You have a good grasp on what is happening here in Malta and I can’t say it’s getting any better, if anything the reverse is true. I’m a Brit who has lived here for 14 years and I have never seen anything like it. The amazing thing is the attitude of the “hamalli” or Muscat supporters, they love the whole crooked atmosphere with a “so what attitude”. I think that finding who commissioned the assassination of Daphne will be the turning point on everything. My best bet is it’s a political murder but who? There are so many contenders. Every single day, and I mean every single day another scandal involving corruption within the government is highlighted, and you become immune, oh yes,! What is heartening is their absolute fear of anything Daphne, my God they are terrified of her image or quotes being displayed anywhere and do their utmost to remove them thinking that it will stop the dissent. How wrong. Anyway nice to see that someone outside Malta can expose the truth, we’ve only got Manuel Delia on the island and he gets some shit. Keep up the good work and publish everything you find.

    • Hi Mick,

      I know what you mean, the entire place seems to have gone off the rails. I lived in Malta for 6 years, and saw so many changes post-Gonzi when Muscat came to power. There was a new scandal involving the government every single week, any one of which would have forced resignations in a normal country. It was like the worst elements of the society suddenly came out into the open and flourished. But I think those elements were always there. I wrote a piece for Daphne’s website last year in the lead up to the election that you might find interesting https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2017/04/guest-post-responsible-joseph-muscat/

      I agree with your assessment, I’m convinced that Daphne’s murder had political connections, and that only pressure and resources from outside Malta will solve it. Muscat’s government has shown absolutely no willingness to look in the obvious shadows. I wonder why that is?

      • Wow you got it in one,I didn’t know if I was going to laugh or cry, having been confronted by the many idioms you highlighted. I suppose I’m like many others on the island,hoping that Forbidden Stories or The Daphne Project are working away on the torpedo that will cripple them once and for all.
        Here’s a headline from Today’s Times, Unbelievable.

        Justice Minister becomes ‘Minister of Censorship’

        KLMF and write on everything you see or hear, or give it to Manuel!!

        • It really did feel like living in a twilight zone at times. I’m hopeful that the Daphne Project finds what they need to unravel everything — and send those responsible to prison. Seeing Ali Sadr arrested was welcome news. But why is it that none of these investigations ever start in Malta? It’s always a foreign government.

          I wrote a few guest articles for Daphne’s site last year, and two for Manuel this year. Now finishing up an island book about my time there. I think that any outsider who reads it would understand why Malta is what it is now.


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