Daphne Caruana Galizia

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Daphne Caruana Galizia
Daphne caruana galizia.jpg
BornDaphne Anne Vella
(1964-08-26)26 August 1964
Sliema, Crown Colony of Malta
Died16 October 2017(2017-10-16) (aged 53)
Bidnija, Malta
Cause of deathCar bomb
ResidenceBidnija, Malta
NationalityMaltese
Alma materUniversity of Malta
OccupationInvestigative journalist
Years active1987–2017
Spouse(s)
Peter Caruana Galizia (m. 1985)
Children3
WebsiteDaphneCaruanaGalizia.com

Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia (née Vella; 26 August 1964 – 16 October 2017) was a Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist, who reported on political events in Malta. In particular, she focused on investigative reporting into government corruption, nepotism, patronage, allegations of money laundering,[1][2] links between Malta's online gambling industry and organised crime,[3] Malta's citizenship-by-investment scheme, and payments from the government of Azerbaijan. Caruana Galizia's national and international reputation was built on her regular reporting of misconduct by Maltese politicians and politically exposed persons.[4][5] For decades, she refused to give up on her reporting despite intimidation and threats, libels and other lawsuits. Caruana Galizia was arrested by the Malta Police Force on two occasions.[5][6]

Readers' main access to her investigations was through her personal blog Running Commentary, which she set up in 2008.[7] She was a regular columnist with The Sunday Times of Malta and later The Malta Independent. Her blog consisted of investigative reporting and commentary, some of which was regarded as personal attacks on individuals, leading to a series of legal battles. In 2016 and 2017, she revealed controversial and sensitive information along with allegations relating to a number of Maltese politicians and the Panama Papers scandal.[8][9]

On 16 October 2017, Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack close to her home,[10][11] attracting widespread local and international reactions.[12][13] In December 2017, three men were arrested in connection with her murder.[14] In April 2018, a consortium of 45 international journalists published "The Daphne Project", a collaboration to complete her investigative work.[15]

Early life and education[edit]

Daphne Anne Vella was born on 26 August 1964 in Sliema. She was the eldest of three sisters born to the businessman Michael Alfred Vella and his wife Rose Marie Vella (née Mamo).[16] Her paternal grandfather, Louis Vella, was the chairman of the National Bank of Malta when it was expropriated by Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff in 1973.[17][18] Her paternal uncle, Colonel Victor George Vella OBE, CMG, was Secretary to the Imperial Government in Malta and later Commissioner-General for Malta in London.[19][20] Her maternal grandfather co-founded Galdes & Mamo in 1947 (which later became the insurance business GasanMamo).[21] Her maternal uncle, Wilfred Mamo, who was lost at sea in the Esmeralda tragedy, was President of Neptunes WPSC.[22][23] Through her father she was a direct descendant of Maltese patriot Capt. Salvatore Vella, who together with his brother Michele Vella, played a crucial role in the uprising against Napoleon's forces in the Siege of Malta (1798–1800),[24] and an indirect descendant of the baroque composer Nicolas Isouard and the Romantic painters Edward and Robert Caruana Dingli.[25]

She was educated at St Dorothy's Convent (Mdina) and St Aloysius' College, Birkirkara. She attended the University of Malta as a mature student and took a BA (Hons) in Archaeology with a minor in Anthropology in 1997,[26] featuring on the Dean's List in 1996.[27]

Caruana Galizia was politicised by her late teens, and was first arrested when she was 18 years old. She was held in detention for 48 hours following her participation in a pro-democracy protest.[1] The policeman who arrested her, Angelo Farrugia, went on to become the speaker of the Maltese parliament.[6] Caruana Galizia held a strong antipathy to the Maltese Labour Party, holding that Dom Mintoff's rule was a disaster for Malta.[28]

In 1985 she married the lawyer Peter Caruana Galizia, a grandson of John Caruana and a great-grandson of E.L. Galizia and A.A. Caruana, and they had three sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul.[26] Matthew is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.[29] The family left Sliema in 1990, moving to Bidnija, a hamlet in the limits of Mosta.[16]

Career[edit]

After deciding to become a journalist, she landed a job with The Sunday Times of Malta as a news reporter in 1987,[1] and she was a regular columnist from 1990 to 1992 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was an associate editor of The Malta Independent in 1992,[7] and remained a columnist with that newspaper and The Malta Independent on Sunday until her death. She also worked in media and public relations consultancy.[26] Caruana Galizia was also the founding editor of Taste and Flair, monthly lifestyle magazines which were distributed along with The Malta Independent on Sunday.[26] They were merged into a single magazine entitled Taste&Flair in July 2014,[30] and Caruana Galizia remained editor until her death.[31]

In 2008 she set up a blog entitled Running Commentary, which included investigative reporting and commentary on a number of people, some of which were labelled as personal attacks.[32] The blog was one of the most popular websites in Malta,[33] regularly attracting over 400,000 views - more than the combined circulation of the country's newspapers.[34]

Caruana Galizia was harassed relentlessly and intimidated for her work and opinions.[3] The front door of her house was set on fire in 1996. The family dog had its throat slit and was laid across her doorstep. Years later, the neighbour's car was burned, probably in a misdirected attack. In 2006, two stacks of car tyres were placed, doused with petrol and set alight next to the family house. The fire was stopped before it took hold by Paul Caruana Galizia who woke his parents, who were asleep inside.[3] After Caruana Galizia started her blog, her terrier Zulu was poisoned and her collie Rufus was put down after being found shot.[35]

According to Matthew Caruana Galizia, death threats were almost a daily occurrence. These took the form of phone calls, letters, notes pinned to the front door, text messages, emails, and comments on her blog.[3] Caruana Galizia's controversial blog posts also resulted in several protracted legal battles. By the time of her death, she was involved in legal proceedings with twelve persons,[36] in 42 different libel suits.[37]

A legal fund was crowdfunded to cover four precautionary warrants - freezing her assets to the tune of €50,000 - for the maximum libel damages possible at law.[38] These were instituted by the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Minister for the Economy, Chris Cardona, and his EU presidency policy officer, Joseph Gerada.[38]

In 2010, she criticised Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera on her blog, who then opened a libel and defamation case against her.[39] The case was withdrawn in November 2011.[40]

She was arrested on 8 March 2013 for breaking the political silence on the day before the 2013 general election, after she posted videos mocking Joseph Muscat. She was questioned by the police before being released after a few hours.[41][16] In November 2010, after commenting about the conservation of the former home of Queen Elizabeth II, Galizia was described by The Daily Telegraph as the leading commentator in Malta.[42] Other major stories and controversies centered around Panama Papers revelations and allegations that Chris Cardona had visited a brothel during an official government visit in Germany in January 2017.[5]

In 2016, Caruana Galizia questioned how British millionaire Paul Golding got rich and acquired Palazzo Nasciaro in Naxxar.[43] From mid-2017 Caruana Galizia became a harsh critic of the new Nationalist opposition leader Adrian Delia,[33] over claims that he had laundered money for a company involved in a prostitution ring in Soho.[7]

Panama Papers[edit]

Caruana Galizia was the first person to learn of the Panamanian companies[44] before the Panama Papers leak of April 2016.[45]

On 22 February, she hinted on Running Commentary that Maltese government minister Konrad Mizzi had connections with Panama and New Zealand.[46] This compelled the minister to reveal the existence of a New Zealand-registered trust, two days later, which he claimed was set up to manage his family's assets.[47] On 25 February, Caruana Galizia revealed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, owned a similar trust in New Zealand which in turn held a Panama company.[48]

The April 2016 leak confirmed that Mizzi owned the Panama company Hearnville Inc, and that Mizzi and Schembri had also opened another company, Tillgate Inc. The companies were also owned by the Orion Trust New Zealand Limited, which are the same trustees of Mizzi and Schembri's New Zealand trusts, Rotorua and Haast respectively.[45]

As the first person to break news of Mizzi's and Schembri's involvement in Panama,[33] she was subsequently named by Politico as one of "28 people who are shaping, shaking and stirring Europe."[49]

Politico described her as a "one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency and corruption in Malta."[50]

In 2017, she alleged that Egrant, another Panama company, was owned by Michelle Muscat, wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. These allegations are what ostensibly compelled Muscat to call the June 2017 general elections, which saw Muscat's Labour Party return to power, though Caruana Galizia believed he had other motives.[33][51]

Death[edit]

The site of the explosion was at the top of Bidnija Road, limits of Mosta (upper right-hand corner).

At around 3 pm on 16 October 2017, Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack on her leased Peugeot 108, while she was driving close to her home in Bidnija.[52]

The explosion left the vehicle scattered in several pieces across nearby fields. She was in the driver's seat at the time. Her remains were found by her son Matthew, 80 meters away from the blast site,[29] after he heard a blast from their family home.[53] He wrote on Facebook: “I looked down and there were my mother’s body parts all around me”.[29] Her death marks the sixth car-bombing in Malta since the beginning of 2016, the first one where the victim was not a known criminal and the fourth fatality.[54]

Caruana Galizia had reportedly filed a police report saying that she was being threatened about two weeks before her death.[55] Barring during elections, her home had not been under police guard since 2010.[29] According to police sources, her protection was further relaxed after the Labour party was returned to power in 2013.[56] Her last blog post before leaving in her car read, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."[29]

Reactions[edit]

Flowers, candles and tributes to Daphne Caruana Galizia left at the foot of the Great Siege Monument, opposite the Law Courts in Valletta.

Her family criticised the Maltese authorities for doing nothing against a growing "culture of impunity" in Malta, saying that Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Chris Cardona, Konrad Mizzi, Attorney General Peter Grech and a long list of police commissioners who took no action, were complicit in her death.[54] Her family refused a request to publicly endorse a government reward of one million euros for information, despite pressure from the Prime Minister and President, and insisted that the Prime Minister ought to resign.[57]

One of Caruana Galizia's sisters insisted that "the President and the Prime Minister are “downplaying” the assassination and “working to transform her into a martyr for their cause,” indicating that calls for national unity were a sham, and that to "call for unity is to abuse her legacy. There should never be unity with the criminal and the corrupt."[58]

The car bomb attack was condemned by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who stated that he "will not rest before justice is done" despite her criticism of him. President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and a number of politicians also expressed their condolences or condemned the murder.[55] Opposition leader Adrian Delia called her death "the collapse of democracy and freedom of expression"[59] and stated that "[the country's] institutions have let us down".[60] Fellow blogger Manuel Delia, a former PN official, called her "the only ethical voice left. She was the only one talking about right and wrong."[11] The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Commission condemned the attack in the strongest terms possible.[61]

The President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani called the death a "tragic example of a journalist who sacrificed her life to seek out the truth."[59] Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, stated that the organization is "shocked" by Caruana Galizia's death and "is deeply concerned about freedom of the press in Malta."[62]

A plenary session of the European Parliament was held on 24 October, with MEPs observing a minute’s silence. Several members of Caruana Galizia's family attended the session at the hemicycle in Strasbourg. The press room at the European parliament building was renamed in her honour. A debate on freedom of the press and the protection of journalists in Malta also took place.[63] Following this visit and the following debate, a delegation is to be sent by the European Parliament to investigate the rule of law, high-level cases of money laundering and corruption in Malta.[64]

Pope Francis sent a letter of condolence, saying he is praying for the journalist’s family and the Maltese people.[65]

The car bombing was reported in both local and international media. Caruana Galizia's name began trending worldwide on Twitter,[59] and a number of Maltese expressed their mourning by blacking out their Facebook profile pictures. The hashtag #JeSuisDaphne, echoing the term Je suis Charlie, trended locally.[66]

The Malta Independent wrote that “for many people, looking up her blog was the first thing they did each day, and the last thing too. Now there is just emptiness. A silence that speaks volumes.”[29] Both the daily and the weekly version of her column were published as blank pages in the days following her murder.[67]

Thousands of people attended a vigil in Caruana Galizia's hometown Sliema on the night of 16 October.[66] Another vigil was held at the Malta High Commission in London.[68]

Students, ex-alumni, teachers, parents and members of the San Anton community held a peaceful vigil from City Gate to the Great Siege Monument in Valletta, in support of the Caruana Galizia family. The three Caruana Galizia siblings were all students of San Anton School.[69]

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced that he would pay a €20,000 reward "for information leading to the conviction of Caruana Galizia's killers."[70] A crowdfunding campaign was initiated with the aim of raising €1 million to be given as a reward for information that leads "to the successful prosecution of the assassin and the person or persons who ordered the assassination."[71] This was followed by a further state-sanctioned reward of €1 million.[72]

On 22 October 2017, the Civil Society Network organised a protest demanding justice in Valletta. Thousands of protesters demanded justice in the aftermath of the assassination and called for the immediate resignation of the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General.[73]

A number of protesters who took part in the rally, also went on to the police headquarters in Floriana to call for the police commissioner’s resignation. After staging a sit-in protest in front of the main door, a banner with a photo of police chief Lawrence Cutajar accompanied with the words “No change, no justice – irrizenja (resign)” was placed on the headquarters' gate.[74]

On 17 April 2018, a consortium of 45 journalists from 18 news organisations, including The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and the Times of Malta, published "The Daphne Project", a collaborative effort to complete Caruana Galizia's investigative work.[15]

European Parliament[edit]

The media room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg was named to the memory of Caruana Galizia in November 2017.[75][76]

Investigation[edit]

Forensic teams and police investigators arrived at the crime scene soon after the explosions. The head of the magisterial inquiry was initially to be Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera, who had previously sued Caruana Galizia for libel in 2010–11. Caruana Galizia's family successfully challenged her role in the investigation citing no confidence in the magistrate. Scerri Herrera abstained from the investigation 17 hours later and was replaced by Magistrate Anthony Vella.[77]

Muscat stated that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation was asked to help the police in investigating the car bomb attack.[60] A police forensic investigation team from the Netherlands also arrived to assist.[78] The investigators were also joined by three Europol officials.[79]

[80] On 4 December 2017, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat announced that ten individuals had been arrested in connection to the investigation, three of whom were later charged with executing the assassination.[14][81] The public and the opposition have criticised the investigation for failing to look into the person who ordered the murder and focusing solely on the hitmen.

In March 2018, a Russian whistleblower and former bank employee, Maria Efimova, who fled Malta for Greece in fear of her life in August 2017, handed herself in to Greek police after the Maltese and Cypriot authorities issued European arrest warrants for her on the basis of complaints by two former employers.[82] Caruana Galizia named Efimova as a source when she alleged that the Maltese Prime Minister's wife, Michelle Muscat, was the beneficial owner of a Panamanian firm used to receive secret payments from Azerbaijan's ruling family.[83] A magisterial inquiry requested by the prime minister himself failed to find evidence to support the allegations.[84]

Funeral[edit]

Caruana Galizia's remains were released for burial on 27 October 2017,[85] and a public funeral was held on 3 November 2017 at the Rotunda of Mosta.[86] Thousands of mourners attended the funeral, applauding and making "V" for victory signs as her coffin was carried out of the church by her sons.[87] The day was observed as a national day of mourning in Malta.[88]

The funeral mass was conducted by Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta, who in his homily told journalists "never to grow weary in your mission to be the eyes, the ears, and the mouth of the people."[89] In a message directed to Caruana Galizia's sons, Matthew, Andrew, and Paul, he said: "As you know, whenever your mother was abroad, she had a habit of lighting a candle in church for each one of you: the silent prayer of a mother for her children ... Your beloved mother died a cruel death by the hidden hand of someone that valued darkness over the light for his actions are evil. See that you will always be the children of the light."[89]

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat did not attend the funeral, saying Caruana Galizia's family made it clear that they were not welcome.[90] The Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia, was "conspicuous by his absence".[91]

Among the people at the funeral were several high officials: Silvio Camilleri, Chief Justice of Malta; Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament; Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media; Eddie Fenech Adami, former President of Malta and former leader of the Nationalist Party; Lawrence Gonzi, former Prime Minister of Malta and former leader of the Nationalist Party; and Simon Busuttil, former leader of the Nationalist Party.[86][91][92]

See also[edit]

Selected literature[edit]

  • Debono, Joseph A.; Muscat, Caroline, eds. (2017). Invicta: The Life and Work of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Pertinent Press. ISBN 978-1-912142-13-2. (An Italian version of the book was issued in 2018[93].

References[edit]

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