BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament set up on Tuesday a group of lawmakers who will monitor investigations into the murders of journalists in Malta and Slovakia.
The decision follows "concerns" expressed by lawmakers and the EU police agency, Europol, on the national investigations of the killings of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta last October and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February.gi
Both were investigative journalists who were digging into high-level cases of corruption in their countries.
"The European Parliament is concerned about the lack of progress in both murder investigations, repeated claims of harassment and intimidation of journalists and persistent allegations of corruption and fraud," the civil liberties committee of the EU assembly said in a statement on Tuesday.
The "Rule of Law monitoring group" will be composed of lawmakers from all political groupings in the parliament and will be chaired by Dutch liberal lawmaker Sophia in 't Veld with a mandate until the end of the year to conduct hearings and fact finding missions.
Last week, a mission of EU lawmakers to Malta said the investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia was in "serious danger" after the prosecutor in charge, Anthony Vella, was offered a promotion that would effectively prevent him from continuing his work on the murder.
The European Commission, the EU executive arm, declined to comment on the new concerns raised by lawmakers.
Three people have been charged with the murder of Caruana Galizia, but investigators have not identified who ordered the killing.
The killers of Kuciak and his fiancee also remain at large, and the Slovak police is accused of having inadvertently destroyed evidence.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio, editing by Larry King)