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'Democratic Institutions Captured by Politicians Places All Investigative Journalists Under Threat'
Nicola Driscoll-Davies speaks to David Casa, a senior Maltese MEP, about the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The Council of Europe has formally added the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to a list of crimes against journalists with impunity after Malta failed to meet its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights two years since her assassination.
Three men are due to stand trial after almost two years in custody in Malta for the murder of the journalist in a car bomb in 2017. They have pleaded not guilty to planting and detonating the bomb, but are not the masterminds behind the murder.
“Two years after Daphne’s assassination, there is still no justice for her or for her stories,” Corinne Vella, Caruana Galizia’s sister, told Byline Times. “The news that her name is now on the Council of Europe Platform to End Impunity does not surprise us, but we are doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t remain there.”
David Casa, European Parliament Quaestor and Malta’s senior MEP, said: “In the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia, there has been complete impunity at all stages. Impunity for the persons she exposed by her reporting. Impunity for the masterminds and impunity for those who were duty bound to prevent this atrocity.”
Casa told this newspaper that he can “see no evidence to suggest that the present government wants this situation to change”.
When democratic institutions are captured by the government of the day, all journalists, but “especially investigative journalists who are facing greater threats across Europe” are at risk, he said, stressing that European institutions must intervene to make sure that the truth emerges in the case of Caruana Galizia.
“We need to know the identity of the masterminds and who was involved in the planning,” he said. “Unfortunately, rather than uncovering the truth, the authorities appear more interested in concealing it. I gave up on expecting anything in particular coming out of our own institutions in Malta. I know that this is a strong declaration but this is what I believe. So that is why we have to turn now to European institutions including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”
Every evening, between midnight and three am, Owen Bonnici, Malta’s Minister for Justice, directly orders Government workers to remove candles, flowers and pictures placed at a protest memorial commemorating the journalist.
Every morning, without fail for two years, the civil society organisation Occupy Justice – a movement of non-partisan women – replace the items on the protest memorial, which is situated in Valletta’s main high street, directly opposite the law courts.
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Asked about the government-sanctioned destruction of the protest memorial, Casa said: “The actions of the Government are outrageous and [deserve condemnation]. The daily assault on a memorial calling for justice for an assassinated journalist is not something even remotely acceptable in an EU member state.”
Occupy Justice has protested daily for two years demanding justice for Caruana Galizia and her stories, despite intimidation from the Maltese Government and members of the public. The group was formed in direct response to her assassination.
The inspirational women keeping her memory alive feel that the protest memorial serves as a daily reminder to the public that justice is yet to be delivered for the journalist. They have also said that they will not stop calling for the resignations of Malta’s Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Keith Schembri – both of whom were named in the Panama Papers as having offshore accounts.
The Maltese Government will continue to destroy the memorial and intimidate civil society because it is “expecting us to forget about Daphne,” according to David Casa. “The Maltese Government uses these same tactics in its hate campaigns on Facebook and social media groups. I have had to go to the police a number of times myself to report threats because I was threatened on the internet numerous times, including threats of [hanging] and similar. Some people close to the Labour Party in Government use these tactics expecting to scare and stop you doing your work.”
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Casa told Byline Times that he is no longer scared, despite the fact that, even as a Maltese MEP, he has been refused police protection which he specifically requested from the Government.
Despite Caruana Galizia’s murder being added to the Council of Europe impunity list, Casa believes there will be justice for her murder and expects European institutions to ensure that this will be achieved – in order to increase protections for the lives of all journalists within Europe.