The Maltese government created a “culture of impunity” that led to the assassination of reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia five years ago, an inquiry has said while claiming the state bears responsibility for her death.
The investigative journalist was killed in October 2017 when a car bomb detonated under her vehicle as she drove out of her home. By the time of her death, 53-year-old Caruana Galizia had become known for her anti-corruption reporting, having accused Maltese officials of engaging in illicit activities. Malta’s former prime minister, Joseph Muscat, tendered his resignation in 2019 after an investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death implicated close associates of the then-leader. He has never been accused by police of being involved in her murder.
The 437-page report, published on Thursday, follows an independent inquiry that ran for two years and heard from numerous witnesses, including Muscat, other Maltese politicians, and journalists. Laying out its findings, the inquiry said that the government at the time of the killing had created “an extended culture of impunity.”
“The tentacles of impunity then spread to other regulatory bodies and the police, leading to a collapse in the rule of law,” the panel’s report highlighted.
While the inquiry did not specifically cite a motive for the murder of Caruana Galizia, it claimed that the assassination was either intrinsically or directly linked to her investigations. It also cited unwarranted closeness between businesses and government officials which were later found to result in irregularities on big project deals.
Following the publication of the report, Prime Minister Robert Abela released a statement declaring that “lessons must be drawn” from its findings, committing to “continue with greater resolve” to implement reforms to protect the rule of law.
I have just published the full report of the Public Inquiry Daphne Caruana Galizia. The report merits mature analysis beyond partisan arguments. Lessons must be drawn and the reforms must continue with greater resolve. – RA
Since her death, Caruana Galizia’s family have sought justice for her murder, with her son describing Malta as a “mafia state” and her mother claiming the journalist was assassinated for having “stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it.”
Meanwhile, a police investigation has indicted three men on charges of murdering Caruana Galizia. In February, one of the accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars. The other two suspects have not yet gone on trial. A fourth person has been charged with complicity over the murder, but denies the allegations.
The independent inquiry was launched two years after Caruana Galizia’s death, with Muscat giving the green light for its creation shortly before he left office. It was headed by former judge Michael Mallia, ex-chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro.
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