The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
View E-Paper

Updated: CoE may send special rapporteur for investigation into Daphne’s assassination

Julian Bonnici Monday, 22 January 2018, 14:44 Last update: about 7 years ago

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has received a motion calling for a special rapporteur to be sent to Malta to oversee the authorities in their investigation into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and ensure that investigators can work freely from political interference, and that those who ordered the murder can be brought to justice

In a meeting held today, parliamentarians and journalists listened to Daphne’s sons’ pleas for intervention from the European Institution.

Referencing the failed parliamentary motion from Chris Said to appoint an independent inquiry into her murder and her many allegations, they said that no domestic remedies were available to change the course of the current investigation, which they said was impeding their human rights for failing to ensure that the investigation was independent and impartial, for failing to include her family as her next of kin and provide them with insight into the investigations.

“There is no legal precedent to hold a broader public inquiry, no mechanism to examine the case openly and transparently, this is why we are asking for your help,” they explained.

The fallen journalist’s sons spoke of the Egrant allegations faced by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, along with his wife Michelle Muscat, and their mother’s claims that the latter was the true owner of the third Panamanian offshore account, and had used Pilatus Bank to facilitate a transfer of €1 million from Leyla Aliyeva, one of the two daughters of Ilham Aliyev, ruler of Azerbaijan.

“The Prime Minister has gone after the whistleblower of these allegations like a rabid dog. They should be defending whistleblowers. Instead he tells a BBC interviewer that it was impossible to hide €1 million. Does he forget that one of his ministers had half a million euro in cash at home, and he’s even part of the PACE?,” they asked,  clearly referring to former minister Manuel Mallia.

They also pointed to the lack of resignations and investigations following the revelation that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri had opened offshore accounts in Panama in the days following the Labour Party’s election win in 2013, as further evidence of their belief that the country’s institutions are failing.

“There has been the systematic take down of law enforcement authorities. There have been five police commissioners in five years. The Head of the FIAU resigned after handing in a report concerning money laundering and Pilatus Bank.”

“The renaming of the press room after our mother at the European Parliament and the demonstrations following her murder was not even televised by the national broadcaster,” they added.

There was also stinging criticism of the “decades of legal, financial, and psychological harassment” their mother had faced, referencing arson attacks on their home, and the multitude of libel suits and criminal defamation cases Daphne faced at the time of her death, specifically Economy Minister Chris Cardona’s controversial garnishee order which froze €47,460 in her assets, a first in libel cases.

Etienne Grech

Labour MP Etienne Grech, who was at the meeting, asked the family:

“Did your mother ever encounter any difficulties of freedom of expression during her lifetime or was she able to write whatever she wanted? I have followed a lot of her writings and she had impeccable English and had some very good stories, including stories on organised criminals transporting fuel. Some of her stories were political and others weren’t, but in her last three months, your mother wrote a lot about the Opposition leader. Do you think this might have had an effect on the tragedy?”

The family took umbrage to Grech's remarks, implying that he was sent there by the government.

“Yes, it is a crime and the government is doing all it takes to solve it,” Grech responded, “it has left no stone unturned, it has even brought experts from the FBI and Europol to assist in the investigation and indeed the three criminals who are highly suspected of having planted the bomb are facing justice. Obviously, further investigations are being done to try and capture those who ordered them to do what they did, yet obviously this requires a lot of police investigations.”

“What I was saying is that this tragedy, crime, has hit Malta very badly and has caused a lot of sorrow for everyone, including myself. Yet we still tolerate freedom of expression in Malta; you can write what you like and criticise whoever, and your only redress is the press laws. We have even removed criminal libel. Do you think steps have been taken in Malta with regards freedom of speech?”

Grech was then reminded that the government had rejected the aforementioned motion tabled by Chris Said.

  • don't miss