Andrew and Matthew Caruana Galizia say the story behind their mother’s assassination is that of a small Mediterranean Island state that has been taken over by outside interests.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist who was investigating Maltese government links to money laundering and tax evasion. She was killed in a car bomb close to her home last year.
Speaking to Sophie Claudet on Euronews’ Global Conversation, her sons say outside foreign interests have, in effect, taken control and are pulling the strings in the country.
“A term that really defines what our mother learned about Malta is state capture,” says Andrew Caruana Galizia. “This is what all these stories led to. It led to the conclusion that Malta is a captured state, its institutions are captured. And now we're learning what the private interests behind that state capture are .... “
He says the fear is that his country is being used as a “tool”.
“Malta's a small country,” he continues, “so if you capture a major political party which is going to be elected to government, very easily all of a sudden you control all the levers of a European Union member state.
“Malta's EU membership, instead of serving as protection, made us a more attractive prize for these people. Malta has enormous power for its size, within the European Council, within the European Parliament, and also influence over the European Commission: that's incredibly dangerous."
His brother Matthew said that his mother was investigating political corruption at the highest levels of government in Malta.
He describes the situation in the country as being like an inverted Pandora’s Box. “Once your break down institutions, and capture and destroy them in order to enable your own corruption, you let everything else in the door, all the other bad stuff in the world.”
Below is the transcript of their interview on the Global Conversation.
In October 2017, Maltese blogger and investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated after calling out corruption at the highest political level in her country. Once described as a one-woman Wikileaks, Caruana Galizia’s reporting largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers. But she also exposed Malta’s golden passports scheme, whereby the island sells passports to barely screened foreign nationals and corrupt businessmen. She was investigating dozens of cases of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, also involving dictatorships using Malta as a base. Her impressive work lives on through a media consortium known as The Daphne Project. I’m pleased today to welcome two of her sons to shed light on their mother’s work and legacy. Matthew and Andrew Caruana Galizia: welcome to the Global Conversation.
Sophie Claudet: Your mother had received threats, including death threats, prior to her assassination. Malta did nothing to protect her ?
Andrew Caruana Galizia: Who could she go to for protection? Yes, the police should have protected her, but could she go to them, for example, and expect a reaction from them when she was putting the spotlight on them? Often the people that were threatening her felt they could threaten her because they had such close links to the government and our law enforcement authorities. That puts a journalist in the weakest possible position. And the same conditions exist in several EU member states.
Sophie Claudet: Back in Malta, the investigation into your mother's assassination is treated as a criminal case. There seem to be, based on what she revealed and based on what this consortium of media has done in carrying on her work, clear political ramifications.
Matthew Caruana Galizia: In reality, our mother was investigating political corruption at the highest levels of government in Malta. Those are the first people that need to be investigated, the people within politics, the people within the institutions. Our mother was not investigating any of the people who've been arrested.
Sophie Claudet: Three people have been arrested, linked to armed robberies?
Matthew Caruana Galizia: She had heard of one of them but she had never investigated him.
Andrew Caruana Galizia: We know who our mother was afraid of, and we know where the source of the threats came from. And we've communicated these concerns to the authorities and we can't go around looking for proof. So our expectation is that the names that we've given to the authorities will be the first ones to be investigated.
Sophie Claudet: How did they react when you shared those names?
Matthew Caruana Galizia: When we attempt to communicate with the police there's never any response.
Sophie Claudet: So what I'm hearing from you is that it's a pretty hopeless process this investigation.
Matthew Caruana Galizia: Of course the situation is terrible, but we continue to expect and demand more ... our own rights after all, and our mother's own rights.
Sophie Claudet: Back to your mother's work. Her legacy lives on through a consortium of international media. They have fully exposed the golden passports scheme that your mother started investigating. Are there any other cases that your mother was investigating that we'll hear about soon?
Andrew Caruana Galizia: What we've realised is that every single case is connected to the other and the cast of characters is the same.
Sophie Claudet: So ramifications for Russia, Azerbaijan, this Iranian businessman that is sitting in a US jail .... all these people are connected is what you're saying.
Matthew Caruana Galizia: Yes, once your break down institutions, and capture and destroy them in order to enable your own corruption, you let everything else in the door, all the other bad stuff in the world. It's like inverting the Pandora's Box. This is what's happened. So, of course, as long as there's impunity and nothing is done to rectify this situation, to restore Malta to normality, to restore Europe to normality, the stories are going to continue.
Sophie Claudet: But will there be new revelations, will there be new cases, or it is going to be like exposing more of this web of interconnection between these different characters?
Andrew Caruana Galizia: The Daphne Project now has its own mission so it's continuing our mother's work and it will break new ground, that's the expectation. Our mother has been killed, her work has been halted, and they are picking up the threads. Where these threads lead to no one knows. A term that really defines what our mother learned about Malta is state capture. This is what all these stories led to. It led to this conclusion that Malta is a captured state, its institutions are captured. And now we're learning what the private interests behind that state capture are .... who they are and how they're connected to each other and what kind of influence they have over our administration. Whether it is something we could ever escape from or whether we're destined to be a tool of foreign private interests for the next years.
Sophie Claudet: Why Malta? You think web of money laundering, corruption, you think Italy, the mafia, or you think the Middle East. But Malta, why? Why this island?
Andrew Caruana Galizia: Large countries like Italy, even Brazil, no matter how bad the situation gets, always have pockets of institutional independence. Malta's a small country. So if you capture a major political party which is going to be elected to government, very easily all of a sudden you control all the levers of a European Union member state. Malta's EU membership, instead of serving as protection, made us a more attractive prize for these people. Malta has enormous power for its size, within the European Council, within the European Parliament, and also influence over the European Commission: that's incredibly dangerous. Which international money launderers and criminal geniuses wouldn't want to have control over an EU member state? And they found the perfect vehicle in our current prime minister.
Matthew Caruana Galizia: The investigation is at a very critical stage, but of course, because as my brother was saying it's a whole web of corruption and a lot of it is transnational, we need people to keep coming forward to the Daphne Project. It's impossible to engage in this much corruption, to organize the murder of a journalist, without involving a lot of people, so we need people to keep coming forward in secret, anonymously, but they really need to keep coming forward to help the investigators plug these holes.
Sophie Claudet: Matthew, Andrew thanks for being with us on the Global Conversation. Good-bye for now.