Caruana Galizia's killers will be brought to book: Malta
Valetta - Dephne Caruana Galizia, 53, was a woman blogger who was known for exposing corruption in high places in Malta.
Maltese Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Carmelo Abela has dismissed as half-truths and lies various allegations being made against his government over investigations into the murder of Caruana Galizia, a blogger and a journalist.
Dephne Caruana Galizia, 53, was a woman blogger who was known for exposing corruption in high places in Malta. She was killed in a car explosion near her home on October 16, 2017.
Speaking to a group of journalists from the Gulf recently, the foreign minister rebutted the criticism levelled by a section of international Press and human rights organisations over the pace and credibility of the investigations.
Explaining the sequence of events, the minister said: "When this killing happened, the prime minister condemned the killing within in a few minutes. He himself said this is not what we stand for as a country, and that the government will leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigations."
Stating that proceedings are ongoing, Abela said: "Our system is at times very difficult for mainland Europeans to understand because it is based on the Anglo-Saxon model. So we have local investigators but you have also the magistrate leading the investigation. So it is an independent investigation where the magistrate is given all the resources he requires."
He claimed that the current investigations are international in nature because of the involvement of reputed global agencies. "We have asked the FBI to help the local investigators. There were some other law enforcement agencies such as Finnish who were also called in to help. Europol is overseeing the investigation."
Stating the best technical resources were provided to the local investigators, the minister claimed that the Dutch Forensic Lab, which is considered one of the best in the world, was commissioned to crack some of the mysteries of the controversial case. Thanks to the help from the international agencies, the minister, said the Maltese agencies had been able to shortlist over 10 suspects in the case. "Out of the 10 suspects, three were arrested and proceedings are currently taking place in the courts in accordance with our legislation. They have been denied bail more than once."
Pointing out that the agencies had strong evidence against the three suspects for their involvement in the murder, the minister said the investigations were currently focused on the motive behind the act. "The investigators are trying to figure out whether they acted on their own or someone else was behind them."
Referring to the demand for a public inquiry made by international media and family members of the slain journalist, the minister asserted that the simultaneous holding of a public inquiry and a criminal probe was not a good idea. "Experts, the attorney general, and even the constitutional court are of the view that simultaneous public inquiry can negatively impinge on the criminal probe."
In principle, the government was not against a public inquiry, said the minister, who was previously in charge of the interior ministry. It was a question of timing and it can only happen after the criminal probe was completed, he added.
Asked about the demand for a probe by the International Criminal Court, the minister explained: "Each country has its rules and legislations on how investigations are done and on how the legal system works. This is not the only killing that has happened in the world unfortunately. When there are killings around the world, each country has its own legal system to deal with it."
Referring to speculations over the blogger's investigative stories on people, the Minister said if the people had evidence, they should furnish them to the magistrate who worked independently.
In an extensive chat, the foreign minister fielded questions on a variety of issues.
On Brexit, he said Malta was going to lose a partner in the EU. "Most of the time we (Malta and UK) are on the same page when it comes to issues within the EU. One example is taxation. We both are against a tax harmonisation being proposed by many EU member states. So we are going to lose an ally on many issues."
He said Malta enjoyed long-standing relations with the UK. "We have many citizens living in each other country. After Brexit, we are focused on how we can best defend the interests of our respective citizens living here in Malta and in the UK. We have taken steps already in that direction. It was appreciated by the UK which offered the same circumstances and peace of mind to our citizens living in the UK."
Referring to prospective business relations with the UK, he said it would depend on how London negotiated its way out of the EU. But he added that Malta was offering several incentives to UK businesses willing to open an office in Malta to maintain a presence in the EU after the Brexit. In this context, he cited English language and UK-modelled regulations that his country followed as advantages.
Asked about the escalating situation in the Arabian Gulf, Abela said dialogue was the way forward for solving all problems.
He dwelt at length on expanding the diplomatic footprint of Malta across the world. In this context, he referred to the opening of a full-fledged mission in New Delhi which was reciprocated by India. Full-fledged missions were also opened in Accra and Tokyo and a consul-general's office will be set up in Morocco this year.
Who is Caruana Galizia?
> Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist, who reported on political events in Malta
> She focused on investigative reporting into government corruption, nepotism, patronage, allegations of money laundering, links between Malta's online gambling industry and organised crime.
> On October, 16, 2017, Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb attack close to her home, attracting widespread local and international reactions
> In December 2017, three men were arrested in connection with her murder.
- Source: Wikipedia