Daphne Caruana Galizia’s fearless fight against corruption ended on Monday when one of her many enemies planted a powerful explosive in her car.
Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated less than an hour after blogging, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”
Ms Galizia, who made a name for herself by uncovering corruption within her nation’s government, was killed on Monday when a powerful bomb exploded in her Peugeot 108.
The explosion reportedly took place around 3pm as she was driving away from her home in Mosta, a town outside Malta’s capital of Valletta. Only half an hour after her last blog post on Running Commentary was published.
So intrepid was the 53-year-old that Politico EU included her on a list of 28 people “shaping, shaking and stirring Europe”. The news site also called her a “blogging fury” and a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.
According to the ABC, she was the first to report news that Malta government minister Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri were connected to the Panama Papers leak.
She alleged Mr Mizzi and Mr Schembri had trusts in New Zealand, which held companies in Panama, and this year went further by claiming Panama company Egrant was owned by Michelle Muscat, the PM’s wife.
The allegations triggered the country’s general election in June, according to the Times of Malta.
Her last blog post took aim at Mr Schembri, who was testifying in a libel case.
In the post, entitled ‘That crook Schembri was in court today, pleading that he is not a crook’, Ms Galizia wrote, “Mr Schembri is claiming that he is not corrupt, despite moving to set up a secret company in Panama along with favourite minister Konrad Mizzi.”
“There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”
She had filed a police report at Mosta station 15 days before, saying she had received death threats.
The reaction in Malta
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat condemned the “barbaric” attack at a press conference. “Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” he said, “both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”
He’s reportedly enlisted the services of the US government and FBI for the investigation.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia also denounced the attack, and called for stronger law enforcement. “A political murder took place today,” he said in a statement. “What happened today is not an ordinary killing. It is a consequence of the total collapse of the rule of law which has been going on for the past four years.”
Ms Galizia’s husband and three sons have asked the Courts of Malta to replace the magistrate assigned to conduct the inquiry. The family said the magistrate, Consuelo Scerri Herrera, “in her personal capacity, had launched judicial procedures against [Caruana Galizia] regarding comments she had written”.
Freelance journalist Mark Micallef was one of the many social media users to express his disbelief. “Shocking doesn’t even begin to describe this”, he wrote.
Blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia is killed in a car bomb in Bidnija #Malta. Shocking doesn’t begin to describe this.
— Mark Micallef (@mmic78) October 16, 2017
“Daphne Caruana Galicia was murdered for doing her job as a journalist pursuing the truth”, added Ben Freeman Collins.
Daphne Caruana Galicia was murdered for doing her job as a journalist pursuing the truth. #journalism #Malta https://t.co/nyQnUeupaL
— Ben Freeman Collins (@BenFreeCollins) October 16, 2017
Image: Running Commentary