A damning report into Malta’s failure to identify those behind the murder of a journalist has highlighted systematic failings in law enforcement and raised questions about the rule of law in the country.
The 20-page report by the Council of Europe examines the case of Caruana Galizia, whose reporting uncovered widespread corruption, before she was killed by a car bomb in October 2017.
Her murder exposed the dark side of the Mediterranean island that is both a member of the EU and a haven for online gambling, offshore finance and cryptocurrencies.
Maltese authorities have called the report, which was released on Wednesday by Europe’s chief human rights watchdog, biased.
Pieter Omtzig, a special rapporteur of the report, slammed the prime minister of Malta, claiming he is “all-powerful” in his ability to nominate judges, magistrates, “almost every supervisory body”.
He added parliament is very weak, and there is “no system of checks and balances”.
Jason Azzopardi, a lawyer for the Galizia family, said she was murdered because “she revealed high level institutionalised corruption and crime at the highest echelons of power”.
He added: “Our message is that we will not let the people who ordered her murder, who killed her, to get away with it. And we will not let those in power use their corrupt money to breach or crush our democratic rights. We will prevail.”
Speaking to Euronews shortly before the report’s full publication, Corinne Vella, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister, said the issues that had led to her sister’s murder were not just a problem for Malta, but for the whole of Europe.
“There is a problem of rule of law, we’ve maintained all along that her assassination is not an exception in a normal situation, but a direct outcome of systemic problems in Malta, and those problems affect all of Europe and not just Malta.”
She added, that the failing extended to the highest echelons of the Maltese government.
“There are problems surrounding the office of the prime minister, and the person who is currently in that office then yes, the problems do go all the way to the top.”
“Daphne was reporting about corruption at the highest levels of government, and its total impunity for the crimes that she exposed. The Prime Minister’s office is filled with people who have dubious records at best. His chief of staff is named in the Panama papers, one of his star ministers is named in the Panama papers and both men are still in office. There has been no investigation, and no retribution in their case.”__EuroNews