Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was killed by an explosive device placed in her car on Monday.
Galizia, was an investigative reporter who had the most popular blog in Malta, the site was named Running Commentary and contained reports of alleged corruption of public officials.
Her reporting repeatedly landed her in the courts. In a February-15th post on her blog she wrote that three cases against her from the police were in queue.
After the Panama papers leak, she reported on them heavily.
“There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate,” she wrote in her blog just half an hour before she was killed. She had filed a report to the police about receiving death threats just 15 days prior to her assassination.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was the target of accusations by Galizia in a case linked to the revelations of the Panama Papers. Galizia claimed that the wife of the Prime Minister was the beneficial owner of a company in Panama that moved large sums of money between Panama and bank accounts in Azerbaijan. In his statement about Galizia’s assassination, the Prime Minister said:
“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way. The only remedy for anyone who felt slandered was through the courts.”
Muscat had called for snap elections during the summer, after the Galizia’s accusations caused a political scandal, and his party won easily. In an interview given before the elections, Galizia stated that if Muscat’s party won she would be concerned for her safety and she was considering leaving the country.
Muscat has also requested the assistance of the FBI in the case. The Bureau agreed to help and FBI agents will arrive in Malta as soon as possible to help local law enforcement. The infamous creator of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, offered a 20,000 euro reward for information that would lead to the conviction of the killers.
European journalists and EU officials made statements expressing their shock and grief for the loss of life of a journalist and the attack on the freedom of the press.
German European Parliament member Sven Giegold said: “Such incidents bring to mind Putin’s Russia, not the European Union. There can be absolutely no tolerance for violence towards the press and freedom of expression in the European Union.”
3,000 people gathered in a candle light vigil on Tuesday evening in Sliema, a town near Malta’s capital Valletta.
Not everyone was saddened by the assassination, however. A police man named Ramon Misfud made a post on social media saying “Everyone get’s what they deserve! I am happy.” He has been suspended and is currently under investigation.
Scerri Herrera is the inquiring magistrate for the case but as soon as she was appointed the family of the victim asked for her dismissal. The magistrate was target of professional and political criticism by Galizia on several occasions and her family feels that she will not serve their quest for justice to the best of her ability.
It comes as a shock to many that an assassination happened in the EU in 2017. It might be expected it in some other parts of the world, where journalists work under the sword of Damocles everyday, but here it is a very rare and shocking event. It needs to be noted that whoever had the idea to kill Ms. Galizia was not very dexterous: what they managed was to draw the attention of the world on the small Mediterranean island of Malta. Attention and scrutiny bring dirt to the surface.
On a personal note, we can only hope that justice is served swiftly and rigorously, for the sake of Ms Galizia’s family and the sake of freedom of press.