Wednesday 19 December 2018

Thousands march in Malta protest over journalist's murder

People protest against the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia last Monday, in Valletta, Malta. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
People protest against the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia last Monday, in Valletta, Malta. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Chris Scicluna

Thousands of Maltese joined in a protest yesterday calling for justice over the murder of a campaigning journalist who was killed by a car bomb last week.

The demonstrations in Malta's capital, Valletta, were organised by the group Civil Society Network after the attack that killed anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia (53) in a murder that shocked the Mediterranean island.

However, some of the politicians she accused of wrongdoing stayed away from the demonstration.

Some of those present at the protest carried placards or wore T-shirts with the last words written by Ms Caruana Galizia, minutes before she was killed: "There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."

"You remember, we gathered, almost three years ago, in Paris, after the Charlie Hebdo killing. We have gathered today in Valletta for Daphne and everybody can say 'I am Daphne, je suis Daphne'," said Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders.

Michael Briguglio, who heads the Civil Society Network, said the commissioner of police and the attorney general should be removed for not having acted following revelations in the so-called 'Panama Papers'.

A woman and child wrapped in Maltese flags stand near a memorial for murdered investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Photo: REUTERS
A woman and child wrapped in Maltese flags stand near a memorial for murdered investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Photo: REUTERS

Ms Caruana Galizia reported in April that the wife of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was the beneficiary of a secret company in Panama, called Egrant, in which $1m (€850,000) had been deposited from Azerbaijan. The claim was strenuously denied by the prime minister and by his wife.

A magisterial inquiry on the Egrant charges is under way.

The Maltese government on Saturday announced a €1m reward and protection for anyone who comes forward with information leading to the identification of whoever was behind the journalist's murder.

"This is a case of extraordinary importance which requires extraordinary measures," the government said in a statement on the reward.

However, Mr Muscat did not attend the event in Valletta because he said he knew that the anti-corruption reporter's family didn't want him to be there.

"I know where I should be and where I should not be. I am not a hypocrite and I recognise the signs," Mr Muscat said, adding that he supported the rally's goals of a call for justice and national unity.

Mr Muscat had been re-elected with a large majority for a second five-year term in June.

Nationalist leader Adrian Delia also decided to skip the rally because he didn't want to "stir controversy".

"Today is not about me, but about the rule of law and democracy," he said.

A delegation from his Labour Party and the opposition Nationalist Party attended.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was present, walking at the back of the large crowd with her husband. She was later due to meet a delegation of the Civil Society Network.

Flowers were laid at the foot of the Malta Great Siege monument commemorating the unsuccessful siege of Malta by Ottoman Turks in 1565 - which has become a temporary shrine for Ms Caruana Galizia.

"It is us who are now under siege," a participant said as he looked at the banks of flowers under a picture of Ms Caruana Galizia.

Irish Independent

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