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The killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia

  • 05 December 2019


Being a journalist can be a lethal business. The measure of a scribbler's success in that regard can often be gauged by the threats and dangers that pursuit entails. The deeper the digging, the greater the danger. In Malta, shudders are being felt through the media and political establishment. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced his intention to resign. Other officials are doing the same.

Malta's equivalent of the accusing ghost of Banquo is that of the slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed by a car bomb purchased from Maltese gangsters and supplied by the Italian mafia, on 16 October 2017. Caruana Galizia had been avidly engaged in those bread and butter pursuits that make an investigative journalist terrifying to establishment complacency, testing claims of corruption among Malta's political and business elite. Her work, and daring opinions on Maltese political life, had proved thorough enough to earn a contract on her life.

Caruana Galizia had much to work with. Over decades, both the Nationalist and Labour parties have jockeyed over ruling the island, tolerating varying degrees of corruption. From 2013, however, the flavour got that much more intense. As Alexander Capp puts it, the Labour party enthusiastically did away with public assets, selling them to Azerbaijan. The island 'became a haven for ever greater flows of dirty cash, and people shuttled their own fortunes away to offshore holdings in Panama and Dubai'.

Running Commentary became Caruana Galizia's weapon of choice, a blog which unearthed many a scandal with probing severity. One post published the month of her death gives a sense about her acid commentary. 'This is what it has come to,' she observes of the jousting antics of the Nationalist and Labour parties: 'the triumph of evil and idiocy, a kakocracy on one side of the House and an idiocracy on the other.'

The Sunday evening address by Muscat was an unconvincing display by a politician caught in the headlights. 'From the very beginning, we made sure that the police had all the resources available. Europol and other international services were also fully involved. Today I am here to tell you that I kept my word.' Not exactly a ringing endorsement of exculpation. 'Some decisions,' he reflected over the murder inquiry, 'were good while others could have been better made.'

The date of Muscat's intended resignation — 12 January — is what has gotten tongues wagging. Why not an immediate departure from office? Indeed,