The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Inquiry – Joseph Muscat and Daphne

Friday, 28 August 2020, 07:47 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat last week walked out of the police headquarters with a smile.

He is not a suspect in the police investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, he later declared. What he was asked about were “practically all” matters already in the public domain, he wrote in a post on the social media, adding that he had answered all the questions he has already replied to in public.

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The police will not give any information on why Muscat was called to the police headquarters to be interrogated. If anyone were to ask, they will say that they are not at liberty to speak about ongoing investigations. So we do not know what the police’s version is. Muscat could be saying the truth, but perhaps not the whole truth.

But the point goes beyond this.

It is, as a matter of fact, a humiliation for a former head of government to be told to go to the police headquarters to answer questions about a murder. The police could have quietly gone to Muscat to seek the information they needed; requiring him to go to Floriana adds more significance to the fact that the police see Muscat as a person who knows or might know details that can help them in their work.

It is an even bigger humiliation that this murder happens to be that of a journalist who was highly critical of the Muscat administration, and that people in Muscat’s office have been mentioned often in court proceedings related to the case.

Let us not forget that Muscat felt compelled to resign days after the police arrested Yorgen Fenech and later arraigned him in court, charging him with being the mastermind behind Daphne’s murder. That resignation shifted attention away from the government, but it did not shift attention away from Muscat.

Whatever developments take place in the future and whatever the outcome of the police investigation and court cases related to it, Muscat will always be remembered as the Prime Minister under whose watch a journalist was assassinated.

He says, almost triumphantly, that it took less than two months for the police to break the case and arraign people in connection with the murder, contrary to what happened in other major cases under other prime ministers. He is referring to the arrest of three men who are now accused of killing Daphne on 16 October, 2017. Court proceedings against them are ongoing too.

But, again, the point is not this. That journalist should have never been killed, and an inquiry is now taking place to see whether the state was doing enough to offer her protection. So many details are now slowly emerging from that inquiry, including how uncomfortable some ministers in the Muscat Cabinet felt about certain situations.

That a former prime minister feels obliged to publicly announce that he is not being investigated goes a long way to expose how far the links between the assassination and the office he used to lead go.

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