Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia mur­der: of­fi­cials 'seek­ing to stall' in­quiry

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The EU’s top jus­tice of­fi­cial is to fly to Malta this week to meet of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mur­der of Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia af­ter a re­port ac­cused the au­thor­i­ties of seek­ing to de­lay and stall at­tempts to find those who wanted the jour­nal­ist dead.

Věra Jourová, the com­mis­sioner for jus­tice, is to seek as­sur­ances and ask “dif­fi­cult ques­tions” about the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has been crit­i­cised by mem­bers of the Eu­ro­pean par­lia­ment.

A re­port from MEPs, on an “ad hoc mis­sion” led by the Ger­man MEP Sven Giegold, has high­lighted a se­ries of con­cerns about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, warn­ing that the hunt for the jour­nal­ist’s killers ap­pears to be in jeop­ardy. Caru­ana Gal­izia’s son, Matthew, tweeted on Wednesday in re­sponse to the find­ings: “This is out­ra­geous.”

Jourová, the Czech Re­pub­lic’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the com­mis­sion, told the Guardian: “The is­sues in Malta go be­yond this is­land, they con­cern the whole of the EU. My role, as a Eu­ro­pean jus­tice com­mis­sioner, is to some­times ask dif­fi­cult and hon­est ques­tions, es­pe­cially on the is­sues that af­fect all of us.

“The com­mis­sion ex­pects an in­de­pen­dent and thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion to un­cover who is re­ally re­spon­si­ble for Daphne’s mur­der, we want the full truth. There is no place in the EU for the mur­der of jour­nal­ists.”

The del­e­ga­tion of MEPs have warned in their re­port that the mag­is­trate in charge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing pro­moted and moved off the case, in a development that could slow down its progress.

They claim po­lice are not fol­low­ing leads to dis­cover the iden­tity of those who or­dered the car bomb­ing that killed Caru­ana Gal­izia in 2017.

It is fur­ther claimed by the three MEPs sent to Malta on be­half of the par­lia­ment’s po­lit­i­cal groups that of­fi­cers have failed to “fully in­ves­ti­gate” the wit­nesses who claim they saw Malta’s min­is­ter of econ­omy, Chris Car­dona, drink­ing with one of three sus­pects be­ing held on sus­pi­cion of de­t­o­nat­ing the bomb.

Car­dona and his aide Joseph Ger­ada were su­ing Caru­ana Gal­izia for defama­tion over her claims that the pair had vis­ited a brothel in Ger­many while on of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment busi­ness. Her re­ports have been de­scribed by Car­dona as “fabri­ca­tions and lies”.

Car­dona has said that he only knew the sus­pects in her mur­der through his work as a crim­i­nal lawyer, but that he did not “re­call hav­ing any dis­cus­sions with any of these in­di­vid­u­als, and have def­i­nitely never had any meet­ings with them”.

Last year, a pre-trial hear­ing of

ev­i­dence against the sus­pects, broth­ers Al­fred and Ge­orge De­gior­gio and Vince Mus­cat, heard that the pow­er­ful car bomb used to kill Caru­ana Gal­izia was det­o­nated by a mo­bile phone sig­nal sent from a boat off the is­land’s coast as part of a care­fully planned oper­a­tion last­ing sev­eral months.

The three have pleaded not guilty to charges of mur­der, the crim­i­nal use of ex­plo­sives, in­volve­ment in or­gan­ised crime, and crim­i­nal con­spir­acy. How­ever, there ap­pears to have been lit­tle progress in dis­cov­er­ing who or­dered the crime.

The MEPs write: “The in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the as­sas­si­na­tion of Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia is stalling. Peo­ple we spoke to sus­pect that the plan may be to en­sure the blame rests with the three sus­pected bombers and to even­tu­ally let them go free, af­ter 20 months of de­ten­tion.”

“Mag­is­trate Vella, who has been in charge of the mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, has been of­fered a pro­mo­tion to be­come a judge and should, in a few weeks, leave the case. This is in­ter­preted by many as a way to de­lay and stall the in­ves­ti­ga­tion

“The po­lice is os­ten­si­bly not fol­low­ing all rel­e­vant leads to find out who or­dered the as­sas­si­na­tion. Ex­cuses pro­vided go from lack of re­sources to im­pos­si­bil­ity to in­ves­ti­gate all peo­ple ex­posed by the de­ceased who might have had a mo­tive to si­lence her.

“Quite shock­ingly, the po­lice ap­peared not to have thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated wit­ness ac­counts – pub­lished by in­ter­na­tional me­dia – that min­is­ter of econ­omy Chris Car­dona had been seen drink­ing with one of the sus­pects prior to their ar­rest.”

A spokesman for the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment said the re­port had been drafted “by three MEPs af­ter a visit to Malta in a pri­vate and po­lit­i­cal ca­pac­ity, and not on be­half of the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment or any of its com­mit­tees”. He ac­cused the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans of mak­ing “wild al­le­ga­tions” which are “ab­so­lutely and com­pletely false”.

The spokesman said: “There is no ev­i­dence to sup­port the the­ory that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ‘stalling’. Three peo­ple have been ar­rested and charged with the mur­der of Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia, and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in to who or­dered her mur­der car­ries on at pace. “Sig­nif­i­cant Po­lice and Se­cu­rity Ser­vice re­sources are still de­ployed on the case.”

It is un­der­stood that Jourová is to speak to Malta’s min­is­ter for jus­tice, Owen Bon­nici, and the coun­try’s lead­ing judge on Thursday, be­fore meet­ing the of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gat­ing Caru­ana Gal­izia’s mur­der. She is also due to lay flow­ers on the jour­nal­ist’s tomb.

Jourová said would also raise is­sues over Malta’s of­fer of pass­ports for cash and its flail­ing at­tempts to clamp down on or­gan­ised crime and money laun­der­ing.

Jourová said: “I think the mur­der of a jour­nal­ist was a wake-up call for many of us and a clear re­al­i­sa­tion that many things are related to one an­other. Money laun­der­ing, cit­i­zen­ship for sale, se­cu­rity, cor­rup­tion are all part of the sys­temic threats to the rule of law and democ­racy as such.”

Pho­to­graph: Dar­rin Zam­mit Lupi/Reuters

Peo­ple hold up pic­tures of the as­sas­si­nated jour­nal­ist Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia dur­ing a vigil and demon­stra­tion in Val­letta, Malta, mark­ing seven months since her mur­der.

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