Nicola Driscoll-Davies gathers reaction to the attempt by a government spokesman to deny the political motives behind the murder of Malta’s most famous journalist.
Though the Council of Europe’s report on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has been adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Maltese Government has been ordered to begin an independent public inquiry into her murder within three months, the Maltese Government continues to deny that the country’s most prominent journalist was ‘assassinated’.
“‘Assassination’ is a very politically loaded word, which I refute.”Kurt Farrugia
Malta’s Government Communications Director, Kurt Farrugia, told Byline Times: “I’m afraid you are not being informed correctly. Particularly on the current police investigations following the leads to the masterminds of the Caruana Galizia murder. ‘Assassination’ is a very politically loaded word, which I refute.”
This newspaper put his statement to a number of politicians interested in the case. Their condemnation was universal.
Rewriting History and the Rule of Law
Ana Gomes, the former Portuguese diplomat, politician and MEP, this week described Farrugia’s denial of Daphne Caruana Galizia being assassinated as “outrageous”.
“It is not an assassination of any individual person – it is the assassination of a journalist. It’s freedom of expression and the freedom of information that is at stake,” Gomes said. “So, what was it – if it was not an assassination?”
The Maltese Government is trying to “obfuscate” everything regarding Caruana Galizia’s murder, according to Gomes. “They have found the people who have allegedly committed the crime, but these people were not the authors.”
Gomes said the rule of law was at stake. “The Government of Malta has been the one presenting the investigation, and the justice system in Malta is one that doesn’t guarantee the independence of the judiciary.”
David Casa, the European Parliament Quaestor and the highest-ranking Maltese MEP in Malta, also expressed outrage at the government spin.
“Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered with a car bomb in broad daylight. Putting into question that this was an assassination is outrageous and shameful,” he said.
“Daphne Caruana Galizia was Malta’s foremost investigative journalist. She exposed corruption at the highest levels of the Maltese Government, and she exposed the political capture of Malta’s institutions. At the time of her assassination, she was working on the biggest data leak she had ever received.”
“After the assassination, the Labour Party has viciously attempted to destroy Daphne’s memory. They are now also trying to change history by altering the way she was killed. This is condemnable”David Casa
“The Labour Party ran a hate campaign against Daphne Caruana Galizia spanning over a decade. She was vilified and dehumanised. After the assassination, the Labour Party has viciously attempted to destroy Daphne’s memory. They are now also trying to change history by altering the way she was killed. This is condemnable.”
Roberta Metsola, a Maltese MEP, told Byline Times that the denial of the assassination was telling.
“I think the fact that the head of the Government of Malta’s Communications would actually dispute one of the most tragic incidents of our time is a problem in itself,” Metsola said.
“This is a far cry from the initial reaction of the Government to ensure that the authorities had all the resources at hand and, to quote them, ‘not to leave even one stone left unturned’ – to be now disputing the word ‘assassination’. It is the biggest disrespect to Daphne and her work and legacy, but also to journalists in general by a member state government.
“This was an assassination… no matter how hard the Government tries to spin it that way.”
“The Erasure of Truth”
In evidence published by the UK Foreign Affairs Committee last month, Caruana Galizia’s sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul, wrote: “Our evidence shows that, when law enforcement and democratic checks get to the point that they have in Malta, journalists become the last people left standing between the rule of law and those who seek to violate it.
“Their work becomes more dangerous and its impact is diminished with worrying implications for global media freedom and global corruption.”
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a great admirer of George Orwell’s 1984, which she often quoted in her investigative work. In 2017, referring to the author when reporting on Pilatus Bank – before its closure in the midst of a scandal she had reported on – Caruana Galizia wrote: “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”