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