The Malta Independent 12 November 2019, Tuesday

The woman of indomitable courage

Noel Grima Sunday, 13 October 2019, 08:33 Last update: about 30 days ago

At the end, it must have been some weeks before she was killed, from the sidelines – so to speak – that I sensed Daphne was increasingly on her own.

She battled on, facing an ever higher amount of libel cases and legal harassment, with an increasing probability of losing at least some of them, refusing to bow down, refusing to notice the hatred in the faces of people she met on the street.

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So in one of my Sunday articles I mentioned her, never expecting any reply. So great was my surprise to get a message from her: ‘Thanks Noel’. It was only later that I realised how lonely she felt and that she was facing the battle she had undertaken practically on her own. Many of those people today lighting candles and placing flowers were nowhere to be seen then.

I have been given access to the book that is going to be launched in the coming days, as the second anniversary of her killing comes round. The book, Murder on the Malta Express – who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia? (Midsea Books) has been co-authored by Carlo Bonini, Manuel Delia and John Sweeney (of the ‘artful dodger’ Joseph Muscat interview fame).

The penultimate chapter – entitled Who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia? – warns against reading that chapter first and skipping the rest. The substance of the book is to be found in the preceding chapters – which show the 360º nature of Daphne’s writings on her blog. She was already a renowned writer when she was writing in The Times and in this newspaper, but around the 2008 election she felt that writing two articles a week was not enough for what she wanted to say. So she branched off and created her blog, to which she often devoted her days and – increasingly – her nights as she stayed up to monitor comments and, on many occasions, to intervene.

Although her blog has been saved intact, it would be a good idea to have all her comments – and her readers’ contributions – printed before anything happens to that blog and everything is lost.

This book is the next best solution. Moreover, it explains the background and adds valuable information dating from Daphne’s murder up to the present. It is a valuable introduction to everything that Daphne stood for and it shows the sheer greatness of the person she was, her indomitable courage and her principled stand against corruption in any form.

Of course there was another side to her, especially when she wrote about people on a very petty level, but to read her cumulatively is to come to appreciate her greatness and courage.

Concurrently with reading this book, I am also reading Roberto Saviano’s latest book ZeroZeroZero. Saviano, who has spoken about Daphne, is under police protection (although the previous government tried to take this away but was forced to retreat by the national outcry. Here Daphne did not have any police protection at all (nor would she have wanted it, given the police’s sorry reputation which she shared).

Saviano tells how he has become a prisoner of his police guards – he cannot wander around the streets, or even buy an ice-cream. And yet he is still alive whereas Daphne is dead.

Saviano is justly world-famous but he has just one theme. Daphne, on the other hand, is more wide-ranging. The list of chapters show the extreme variety of her themes, the number of people and the subjects she tackled.

And, if anything, they show this country in the worst possible light – it is as if there is corruption all around, as if all spheres of public life are infected and, although her focus is on this PL government, one of the first chapters of this book is regarding John Dalli, a former PN minister.

We may remember the cases but this book provides the background and the context. In some cases it provides information which, I am sure, has never been made public, such as the verbatim account of the interrogation of one of those who has been charged with her killing: fascinating reading.

There will, I am sure, be legal consequences to the publication of this book, even though the authors asked those mentioned in it for their views (and John Dalli sent in an 80-page reply). It was a courageous step to write and to publish this book.

Whoever had Daphne killed must have surely under-calculated the impact her death would have had. For instead of one Daphne, myriad Daphnes have appeared. This is why I have always held that no politician could have been the instigator of the murder. The Sunday Times has now pointed a finger at a businessman with no political connections, if I understood correctly. In recent weeks, a Maltese newspaper has again brought up the Sicilian-Libyan connection which would place Daphne’s killing an accident in a Mafia context. I prefer to think there was a Maltese background.

But, as the book amply explains, many mistakes were made and the investigation must proceed with as little obstruction as possible. It has not been possible so far to discover who ordered her killing – but what we do know is Daphne’s immense courage and her way of tackling any whiff of corruption head-on.

This book goes a long way to help us see this.

 

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