The London libel lawyers who targeted murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were today condemned as ‘crooks’ by her son, Matthew. Her killing has prompted calls for an international investigation.
The United States condemned the slaying as a “cowardly attack” and says the FBI is responding to Malta’s request for assistance.
In her last blogpost, published the day she died, Caruana Galizia signed off with a sentence that seems particularly chilling now. “There are crooks everywhere you look. The situation is desperate,” The Guardian reports:
Someone, it seems, was worried enough to want her silenced. In that last post, which appeared just before a bomb blew up the car she was driving, Caruana Galizia had taken aim, and not for the first time, at Maltese politicians. But they were far from the only people in the firing line.
She believed, in essence, that malign and criminal interests had captured Malta and turned it into an island mafia state; she reported on a political system rife with corruption, businesses seemingly used to launder money or pay bribes, and a criminal justice system that seemed incapable, or unwilling, to take on the controlling minds behind it all.
The journalist, who had worked to expose Malta’s links to offshore tax havens through the leaked Panama Papers (see below), had written a twice-weekly column for The Malta Independent since 1996 and wrote a blog, Running Commentary, according to The Independent.
Her work consistently exposed the part Malta plays in a global kleptocracy. One contributor to her blog wrote “Malta is at a fork in the road: third-world kleptocracy or western democratic values?”
“Once again, the international community must mourn a journalist who appears to have been killed for their work to expose corruption,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He urged Malta’s government of Malta to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the killing.
“Journalists, by their very work, help make it possible for us to live in open, free societies where leaders are held accountable,” he said. “The lack of transparency in corporate registration and financial documentation is a key link in the global network of crime.”
Last year Running Commentary revealed that Muscat’s chief of staff and one of his ministers had Panama-registered companies and trusts in New Zealand, The Economist adds:
Ms Caruana Galizia claimed, and they denied, that the offshore vehicles received kickbacks from Russians who had bought Maltese passports. In April she wrote that Mr Muscat’s wife was the beneficial owner of a company that allegedly received $1m from the daughter of the president of Azerbaijan, with which Malta has commercial ties. The government called it a lie. Recently, Ms Caruana Galizia turned her fire on the right, accusing Adrian Delia, of links to a London-based prostitution racket, which he denies.
In deference to her death, Delia dropped libel lawsuits he had pending against Caruana Galizia, AP adds.
The European edition of POLITICO placed Caruana Galizia on a list of 28 people “shaping, shaking and stirring Europe” and described her as a “one-woman WikiLeaks” committed to exposing corruption and nepotism.
“But if Caruana Galizia’s death is a reminder of the risks such reporters take, her life is a reminder of the value of their work,” says analyst Jonathan Freedland. “She performed an extraordinary service, ferreting out evidence that Malta had become an island mafia state, its elite riddled with corruption, money-laundering, kickbacks and gang violence.”
But democracy in Malta was compromised before the murder of Ms. Caruana Galizia, who had ceaselessly reported massive government corruption in this favored European tax haven, The New York Times adds:
The Times of Malta reported that she alerted the police two weeks ago that she was receiving threats. That warning does not seem to have been taken seriously. She had also suffered legal harassment for her reporting; in February, a court in Malta ordered her bank accounts frozen after she was sued for libel by two government officials she reported were seen at a brothel.