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‘Barbaric’ act

  • Written by Matthew Xuereb
  • Published in World
  • Read: 582

Maltese blogger who accused government of corruption killed by car bomb

VALLETTA -- Daphne Caruana Galizia, a prominent Maltese journalist and blogger who made repeated and
detailed corruption allegations against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's inner circle, was killed by a
car bomb on Monday.
    
Muscat condemned the killing as a "barbaric" act and ordered security services to devote
maximum resources to bringing those responsible to justice.
    
"What happened today is unacceptable on various levels. Today is a black day for our democracy
and our freedom of speech," he told reporters.
    
Galizia, 53, died mid-afternoon, close to her home in Bidnija in the north of the island.
    
The force of the blast reduced her car to pieces and catapulted the journalist's body into a
nearby field, witnesses said. She leaves a husband and three sons.
    
Thousands of people, holding candles and waving placards, poured into the streets in the
island's northeast resort town Sliema for a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to the reporter.
    
People left candles, flowers and messages of support at makeshift shrines in the street.
    
"When the people fear their government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people
there is LIBERTY," read one sign left on the pavement with flowers and candles.
    
A local television station reported that Caruana Galizia had filed a police complaint earlier
this month about threats she had received.
    
"I will not rest until justice is done," said Prime Minister Muscat.
    
"Everyone knows Ms. Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and
personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way," he added.
    
In the final entry on her blog, posted within an hour of her death, Galizia reiterated an
allegation that Muscat's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, was a "crook" who used his government
influence to enrich himself.
    
"There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate," she signed off.
    
Galizia's death comes four months after Muscat's Labour Party won a resounding victory in a
general election he called early as a result of scandals to which Caruana Galizia's allegations were
central.

Panama connections
    
Muscat, premier since 2013, went to the polls a year early after his wife, Michelle Muscat, was
accused of being the beneficial owner of a secret Panama bank account.
    
Galizia had alleged the account was used to stash kickbacks from Azerbaijan's ruling family
linked to an Azeri bank gaining a licence to operate in Malta.
    
Muscat called the claims the "biggest lie in Maltese political history," asked a magistrate to
investigate and has vowed to quit if any link is established between him and hidden offshore accounts.
    
The premier has not applied that principle to two of his closest allies.