The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IMJ), in welcoming the charges against three suspects in the killing of investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia, but has also highlighted the need for an impartial investigation into the evidence.
The reporter was killed on 16 October 2017 by a powerful car bomb in Bidnija town, near her family home. Her most significant investigations stemmed from the Panama Papers, a leak of documents from the archives of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Following the arrest of at least 10 suspects on Monday 4 December, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, together with Vincent Muscat, were finally charged with the criminal use of explosives, being involved in organised crime, and criminal conspiracy during a hearing which took place on 5 December. An unspecified number of other suspects who were arrested on Monday would be released on bail, the media quoted the police as saying. The investigation was also aided by the FBI, Europol, and the National Investigations Bureau of Finland.
Reports added that there were no new details about how the three suspects might be connected to the crime or the evidence that has been collected against them.
Nevertheless, the journalist’s family has filed a legal claim against Malta’s police force and has alleged that the investigation has not been independent or impartial, because of connections between a senior police investigator and a government minister. Both were subjects of Caruana Galizia’s blog.
The family has also raised other concerns about the investigation, which they say appears to be focusing only on forensic evidence rather than examining financial transactions that could uncover vital evidence. They also suggest leaks from within the police could intimidate potential informants, media reported.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Although we join our affiliate in welcoming the recent arrests and charges against these suspects, and due to the claims of Daphne’s family, we urge for an independent and impartial investigation to be done, not only covering the superficial evidence of the killing but also going until the very end of the information Daphne was digging into. A proper fair trial would be the best tribute to honor her memory and her legacy following all the years she has worked as investigative journalist in Malta.”
In a statement, the IMJ has welcomed the recent developments and showed appreciation for the work done over the last weeks by the Maltese authorities with the support of foreign experts, but has also called on the government to consider tougher penalties against a person convicted of a crime, assault, threats and/or intimidation against journalists, in order to avoid impunity.
IMJ urges prudence and waits for the compilation of the evidence which is expected to commence in the coming days.