An independent inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has found the Maltese state responsible because it created a “culture of impunity”.
The journalist had been reporting on widespread corruption in Malta’s political and business circles when her car was blown up as she drove home in 2017.
The report concluded there was no evidence that the state was directly involved in her killing but said it “has to bear responsibility”
It said that Maltese authorities had created an “atmosphere of impunity” which was “generated from the highest levels in the heart of the administration of (the prime minister’s office) and, like an octopus, spread to other entities, like regulatory authorities and the police, leading to a collapse of the rule of law”.
Joseph Muscat tried to distance himself from the report’s findings
The state was accused of failing to take measures to protect Ms Caruana Galizia‘s life, despite the threats she was facing.
The Caruana Galizia family said the report confirmed their belief that “her assassination was a direct result of the collapse of the rule of law and the impunity that the state provided to the corrupt network she was reporting on”.
“We hope that its findings will lead to the restoration of the rule of law in Malta,” they said.
Prime Minister Robert Abela, who took office last year, apologised to Ms Caruana Galizia’s family for the state’s “serious shortcomings” in a news conference and pledged to take lessons from the report.
Prosecutors have accused Yongen Fenech, a wealthy businessman linked to some government officials, of being behind the murder.
He was charged with allegedly organising and financing the bombing and alleged complicity in the killing. He has pleaded not guilty.
Protesters called for the prime minister’s resignation in 2019
The investigation into Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder triggered mass protests and a political crisis in the country in 2019, with the reporter’s family alleging that Mr Fenech had ties to close associates of Malta’s prime minister at the time, Joseph Muscat, who eventually resigned.
One man has admitted to his role in carrying out the attack after he and two others were charged.
Another man has confessed to being a middleman and a further two are charged with providing explosives.
In September 2018 people held a vigil to mark 11 months since her murder
Addressing the inquiry’s findings, Mr Muscat said the arrests of the alleged hitmen and alleged mastermind a few months after the killing “disproves any impression of impunity that the alleged perpetrators may have had”.
He said “high profile crimes were committed” under previous governments but “nobody was ever prosecuted”.