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Daphne Caruana Galizia: Murdered journalist's son urges EU not to fund Malta pipeline

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By AFP  with Euronews
Protestors hold photos of Daphne Caruana Galizia during a 2019 demonstration in Valletta.
Protestors hold photos of Daphne Caruana Galizia during a 2019 demonstration in Valletta.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud, File

The family of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has urged the European Union not to fund a Maltese gas pipeline that she was investigating before her murder.

Matthew Caruana Galizia, Daphne's son, voiced his opposition to the project and described the EU funding as "intolerable".

"It is unacceptable that public funds are being used for such a project," he said at a press conference.

"[This] will not only harm the environment but also reward people involved in serious crimes, including corruption and the murder of my mother."

His anger centres on the proposed Maltese Melita gas pipeline, which will transport gas between the EU member state and the Italian island of Sicily.

The project is linked to a power station and gas company part-owned by Yorgen Fenech, the man on trial for Caruana Galizia's murder.

Investigative journalist Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb attack in October 2017 while reporting on corruption. Fenech has denied any responsibility for her death.

The EU is currently negotiating an end to fossil fuel projects to "decarbonise and interconnect" infrastructure.

Talks are due to be completed in December, but the European Parliament has already angered environmental NGOs by adopting a controversial bill in September.

The text stated that more than fifty gas infrastructures could continue to be financed on a temporary basis if there was a "common interest" -- including the Melita gas pipeline.

Several MEPs have joined the Caruana Galizia family and called on the bloc to stop funding the project.

"The EU would be dishonouring itself if it financed a gas project directly linked to the murder of a journalist whose work it has praised," said French Green MEP Marie Toussaint.

"We cannot tolerate requests for derogations for gas projects, even less so when it is tainted by suspicions of corruption, tax evasion, and ultimately murder."

The European Union had recently awarded its inaugural €20,000 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism.

"People accused of being involved in her murder could directly benefit from EU funds for this gas pipeline," said her son Matthew, the director of a foundation in his mother's name.

"This situation is totally intolerable," he told reporters on Wednesday.

A European Commission source told Euronews that the project has not yet received EU funding and said it had not had "any contact" with any company linked to Yorgen Fenech.

"It is important to highlight that while ... the project [is] eligible for Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) financing, the access to CEF financing is subject to a separate application process involving an independent evaluation process," the source said.

"The Malta-Italy pipeline has in the past received CEF financing to carry out preparatory studies, but has not received CEF financing for constructing the pipeline."

"The Commission continues to be in a wider dialogue with Malta on the energy transition in order to support Malta in identifying the most efficient and effective options to achieve the climate and energy policy objectives."