The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Daphne’s murder: PM does not exclude other inquiries once magistrate concludes investigation

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 15 October 2018, 15:10 Last update: about 12 months ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today that the government does not exclude opening other inquiries surrounding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia once the magisterial inquiry is concluded.

Muscat was addressing representatives of five international press freedom and freedom of expression NGOs who are in Malta on the occasion of the first anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s killing. The NGOs were: Reporters without Borders, The International Press Institute, the Committee to Protect Journalists, The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and PEN International

Muscat said that the justice system is in full throttle on the murder, adding that three suspects were arrested and have been charged in court.

Their arrest, he said, was a result of the authorities’ full commitment to get to the bottom of the story.

The PM said that investigators have the ability to freely go wherever the evidence takes them without fear. He said that the magisterial inquiry is completely independent of police investigations.

He said there is general consensus that the magistrate leading the inquiry, Neville Camilleri, is a serious and trustworthy person.

Muscat said that once the inquiry is exhausted, government does not exclude opening any further inquiries.

The five NGOs, in their statement, called on the PM to establish a judicial public inquiry under the Inquiries Act into whether Daphne's murder could have been prevented and to take steps to ensure this cannot happen to anyone else ever again.

"We are deeply concerned by the impact of Daphne's assassination on journalists who continue to do public investigative reporting. They work in a climate of fear, and self-censorship has become widespread," the NGOs said.

The NGOs also said that the way Daphne Caruana Galizia was treated was a disgrace, saying that she received countless threats during her 30 years in journalism, highlighting that her home was set on fire, her dogs killed, and that her face was plastered on derogatory billboards. "The threats and violence she was subjected to were innumerable yet tolerated, and helped create an environment in which she could be murdered with impunity."

The NGOs also called for the resignation of Jason Micallef - as they had done in the past - from the position of chairman of the Valletta 18 foundation. They also mentioned that there are still "30 active libel cases against Daphne posthumously, including lawsuits filed by you, Prime Minister, against he and her son."

The removal of the protest memorial is another part of the "manufactured hate", the NGOs said. The memorial was destroyed 20 times and the NGOs called on the Justice Minister, who was present at the meeting, to restore access to the monument.

After the meeting, representatives of the NGOs said the government said it will consider both the resignation of Jason Micallef and the memorial situation. "They did not give us a final stand but in both cases they agreed that there was a space for considering the present decision. In the case of the memorial it seemed there was an openness to respect the existence of the memorial and in the case of the resignation they said they will continue studying it so it is not a closed issue."

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