Maltese state is responsible for journalist’s murder, investigation finds

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An independent investigation into the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, released Thursday, has found that the Maltese state “must bear responsibility” for the murder because of the culture of impunity perpetuated by the highest levels of government.

Caruana Galizia’s family had launched an investigation into the October 16, 2017 car bomb attack near the family home in Malta. The murder in the small EU country sent shockwaves not only in Malta, but all over Europe.

The investigation found that there was no evidence that the state played a direct role in the murder, but said that the state “must bear responsibility […] by creating an atmosphere of impunity generated from the highest levels in the heart of the administration of (the prime minister’s office) and, like an octopus, spreading to other entities, such as regulators and the police, leading to a collapse of the rule of law.”

The report said the state and its entities did not recognize the real risk to Caruana Galizia’s life, given the threats she had been living under, nor did they take steps to avoid the risk, the report found.

Yorgen Fenech, a prominent businessman with ties to a number of government officials, is believed to have been the mastermind behind the murder. He pleaded not guilty to charges of alleged complicity in the murder and allegedly organizing and financing the bombing.

In addition, three men have been charged with carrying out the attack, two for supplying explosives and another for acting as an intermediary. Trials are underway. One of the perpetrators of the attack has admitted his role, as has the intermediary.

Joseph Muscat, the former Prime Minister of Malta, resigned in late 2019 after protests insisting on the truth about the murder of the investigative journalist, whose reports targeted the Muscat government, as well as the opposition.

The investigative report made a number of recommendations to improve the laws and better protect journalists in Malta.

Prime Minister Robert Abela called for a “mature analysis” of the report “out of partisan arguments”.

“Lessons must be learned and reforms must be pursued with greater determination,” Abela said in a social media post.

(AP)