3 Years On: How the Mystery of Daphne Caruana Galizia is Unravelling

3 years on. It is a ticking time bomb for several powerful figures in Maltese politics, who are accused of being involved in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

3 years ago today, Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb attack metres from her home in Bidnija. The perpetrators: Vincent Muscat and brothers, Alfred and George Degiorigio. They were hired by unknown criminals in a contract killing as an attempt to silence Daphne and her expository reports. Yet has Galizia’s work- for which she paid the ultimate price- been sustained? To answer this question, we must look through the life and work of ‘a one-woman wikileaks’. 

2017 was the year in which a web of lies and corruption came to light. The Panama Papers were leaked: a compilation of 11.5 million documents, giving details of offshore entities, some of which were used for illegal purposes. Daphne had linked Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat and his wife, Michelle to secret offshore accounts alongside Keith Schembri (Former Chief of staff) and Konrad Mizzi ( Former Tourism Minister). Another subject of Daphne’s work was Maltese Businessman, Yorgen Fenech who, in 2018, was discovered to own the company ‘17 Black’, an offshore business which allegedly set up transfers of money to Hearnville Inc and Tillgate Inc – owned by Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. On top of this, the Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Chris Cardona was said to have visited German Brothels while on work trips, something Daphne had openly criticised on her blog Running Commentary.  This resulted in 19 Libel cases being launched against Daphne. They are still being pursued- despite her death- 7 months later.

Photo depicts the initial investigation in to Daphne’s murder/ credit: The New York Times

Years after Daphne’s assassination, there have been great attempts to continue her work, whilst also fight for her justice. Notably, 15 press freedom organisations pressured the European Union to conduct an independent investigation, after reports arose detailing corruption from Maltese police and the judicial system. As a result, Duty Magistrate Consuelo Sherri Herrera resigned in the wake of reports that she had ties to Daphne, affecting her judicial impartiality. One of the organisations that stemmed from this quest for justice is the ‘Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation’ – created and run by Andrew, Matthew and Paul Caruana Galizia. Its aim is to support efforts to protect investigative journalists, end impunity for the murder of journalists, and protect the work of Daphne. In partnership with the foundation, The Daphne Project, representing 45 journalists, made discoveries that Maltese politician, Chris Cardona had attended the bachelor party of one of Daphne’s killers. What a small world.

Daphne handed down the mantle to her son, Matthew, who had received the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting while researching the Panama Papers scandal. Matthew’s work, alongside his family, brought to light a financial trail, resulting in the arrest of Melvin Theuma, the intermediary between Daphne’s killers and the people who hired them. A year later, Theuma was found in a critical condition, with knife wounds to his neck, after reports of a presidential pardon being offered for information regarding Daphne’s assassination.

Demands for justice, one year on. Credit: European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

So, has the work of Daphne been upheld? The European Union claims to stand by the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. It is clear that Malta is failing to represent these values, as a place where “journalists are still not safe” [MEP Heidi Hautala]. 3 years after Daphne Caruana Galizia, the former Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has finally resigned from Parliament.  Yorgen Fenech was arrested and interrogated by police, where he said that he, Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri were “like brothers” and shared a WhatsApp group. As of September 2020, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation are advocating for the arrest of Keith Schembri, who is alleged to receive income from the sale of illegal Maltese passports by Christian Kälin, commonly known as the ‘Passport King’. 

After a long 3 years of battling for justice, Daphne’s killers are yet to be prosecuted and brought to justice. Her legacy, however, lives on. From October 2021, the European Parliament will award the “Daphne Caruana” prize for outstanding journalism work based on the principles and values of the European Union. Repubblika and OccupyJustice – two pressure groups – hold monthly vigils in remembrance. Around the world Daphne’s name is being heard. The investigative books: “Murder on the Malta Express” and “Fearless: The story of Daphne Caruana Galizia” are being sold internationally. 

It is nearly 3 years to the day since Daphne was murdered. To this day, Daphne remains a pioneer for investigative journalism and upholding the rule of law in a country plagued by corruption. The swift sword of justice is yet to strike down the individuals responsible for her death. In a world where words are just as powerful as actions, we must remember those who have fought to bring truth to light. We must remember their names and uphold their legacies. 

Header image credit: Daphne Caruana Galizia Association