Malta after the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Malta after the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Laurence Alexandrowicz
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Two years after the journalist's assassination, the Prime minister has changed, the alleged crime sponsor is in jail and people who are calling for the truth hope this will open up a new era for Malta.

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed corruption scandals involving the government in this small country of fewer 500,000 inhabitants.

Her murder two and a half years ago marked a real turning point for Malta.

The case saw a spectacular judicial development in November: with the arrest of the main suspect and alleged sponsor of the crime, the wealthy businessman Yorgen Fenech.

Fenech accuses Keith Schembri, the chief of staff of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, of being the one who ordered the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"Her murder is connected to her work, and Schembri is connected to her work, and Schembri has been named in a court, it is not possible for Muscat not to have known," says Daphne's sister, Corinne Vella.

"I think about Daphne every day of course, but it's usually because we have to deal with the campaign for justice."

More of the same?

The former Labour Party leader, Joseph Muscat had long supported Schembri, before being forced to resign following mass demonstrations.

On January 13 2017, the party replaced Muscat as leader and Prime Minister with Robert Abela.

The son of former Maltese president George Abela, he served as a legal consultant to Joseph Muscat’s cabinet.

Chris Fearne. who was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Health in 2014 and Health Minister in 2016, was given the role of Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs, thus assuming the role of Deputy Prime Minister of Malta and Leader of the House.

Of the case, Fearne has said that he " would not interfere in the investigations.”

“However, I believe our police and courts should have all the resources necessary to carry out their work expeditiously,” he said. “And all those mentioned in this case should be investigated."

Despite the scandal, the same political party remains in power, backed by the support of many Maltese people.

"The ugly thing is that they mobilised popular opinion against her to the point that she didn't feel comfortable to walk in the street. She couldn't know if somebody is going to attack her," says Vella.

"They put her face on a campaign billboard for example. there was a constant demonisation campaign, especially in the social media, she was positioned as somebody evil, inhuman, they portrayed her as a witch, there was a character of her on a TV program."

Daphne Caruana Galizia worked at the Times of Malta before creating her blog.

She spared no one at the risk of being hated. But her blog was also followed by 400,000 subscribers worldwide, which is almost the number of inhabitants on the island.

"She was brutal in her writing, there were times when she had a kind of a gossip element almost in her reporting, but then there were days when she broke stories, very important stories, like the Panama Papers scandal, where she earned a lot of respect," says Times of Malta editor in chief, Herman Grech.

But her vitriolic papers and revelations cost her her life.

When I saw the carnage. I knew that our lives were going to be a nightmare. I mean they were already a nightmare, but it was not just going to end.
Matthew Caruana Galizia

On October 16, 2017, a car bomb exploded on a small road, 200 meters from the family home.

"At this time we were sharing a car, so she told me when I come back you can use the car. And a few minutes after she left the house, I heard an explosion, I knew straight away that was a bomb. It's the only thing it could have been," says Caruana Galizia's son, Matthew Caruana Galizia.

"I ran out into the road, and that's when I saw the carnage. I knew that our lives were going to be a nightmare. I mean they were already a nightmare, but it was not just going to end."

Caruana Galizia was constantly accused of defamation and was a victim of intimidation. Their house had been set on fire in 2006 when the family was sleeping inside, and one of their dogs was killed.

Three men were soon arrested following the attack, accused of being the contract killers. But Caruana Galizia's family want the real masterminds of the murder to be brought to justice.

"The more awful the situation was in Malta, the uglier it became, the more beautiful my mother made her garden," says Matthew Caruana Galizia.

The eldest of her three sons, Matthew Caruana Galizia carefully preserves articles that bear witness to her 30 years of committed work.

"I think in any other society she would have been perhaps a less important figure because there are many people like my mother. It was only in Malta that she was so isolated and so unique, Malta's only investigative journalist."

"So I feel very proud of the fact that the only way for the people my mother was investigating to shut her up, was the nuclear option, to murder her with a car bomb, " says Caruana Galizia.

Malta has have members of society who are now more willing to go out and make their voices heard, and it's not only about corruption or a call for justice.
Albert Galea
Journalist, Malta Independent

The latest legal advances involve the government, but the authorities did not respond to our requests for an interview.

"This is for me an assassination that was plotted by the state. this is a gang of criminals, who took over our country and our people and led them to this desperate situation," says former opposition leader, Simon Busuttil.

"We need to clean up this mess once and for all. We were a normal European country and this is why we want to become again a normal European country because we deserve it. "

If Daphne's death is an open wound in Maltese democracy, it has created a seismic shift in society.

"I think Malta has changed in the sense of civil society aspect of it, so you have members of society who are now more willing to go out and make their voices heard, and it's not only about corruption or to call for justice," says Albert Galea, a journalist at the Malta Independent.

In agreement is Herman Grech, also from the newspaper: "I think it has made us stronger, it has really made journalists really go for who was behind this assassination."

"Daphne's last words were" the situation is desperate because there are crooks everywhere "and I think her writings, her assassination changed Malta to make the situation less desperate," says Busuttil.

"It's just incredible what an important figure she was, how many she's inspired, how many careers of corrupt politicians she's ended. My mother did change the country, she's even changing it now, from beyond the grave," says Matthew Caruana Galizia.

Hundreds of people gather in Valletta on every 16th of the month, to mark the date of her assassination and demand justice.

Their voices calling for the mystery of her death to be solved and not silenced.

Journalist • Katy Dartford

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