Family of murdered Panama Papers journalist takes legal action against police over investigation

The murder investigation is being presided over by a policeman who along with his wife, a government minister, was criticised by Daphne Caruana Galizia 

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 22 November 2017 23:52

The family of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was killed in a car bomb last month has taken legal action against the police, alleging the investigation is neither impartial nor independent.

Caruana Galizia had done considerable work on exposing corruption in Malta and more recently uncovering the failings of the country’s anti-money laundering outfit, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).

Through her work on the Panama Papers leaks, Caruana Galizia was the first to break the news of the involvement of prominent Maltese politicians in the exploitation of offshore tax regimes.

Her family is now suing Malta’s chief of police because the investigation is being presided over by Malta’s deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta, whose wife, Justyne Caruana (no relation to the journalist), is a senior member of the government.

Ms Caruana was recently promoted to become the minister for Gozo, by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Caruana Galizia had been a vocal critic of Mr Muscat, Mr Valletta and his wife.

Caruana Galizia’s family has claimed the numerous connections in the murder investigation could breach their right to a fair hearing.

Police and forensic experts inspect the wreckage of the car bomb 

“The involvement of the deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta violates the independence and impartiality of any investigation into the loss of life,” the journalist’s family say in their court filing.

According to the Malta Independent, the deputy commissioner and his wife had both been the targets of “harsh criticism” by Caruana Galizia.

In particular, Caruana Galizia had criticised the shortcomings of the FIAU Board after the publication of the Panama Papers. Deputy Commissioner Valletta is himself an FIAU member, a fact which Caruana Galizia had highlighted in May 2017.

Caruana Galizia’s most explosive investigations centred around the Panama Papers leaks, from law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The leaks apparently linked Mr Muscat and other senior members of the Maltese government to offshore companies.

She also wrote about a web of transactions between individuals in the top tiers of the Maltese government and Azerbaijan, which has a key gas contract with Malta.

In particular, she alleged that the prime minister’s wife was the named owner of the offshore company Egrant and said payments from the daughter of the President of Azerbaijan had been sent through Egrant, The Guardian reports.

The sons of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia carry their mother’s coffin from the church in Mosta

Mr Muscat described the allegations as “fabricated”, and has pointed out that no documents proving the link had been published.

At the time of Caruana Galizia’s death he had been in the process of suing her for libel over the claims.

In the recent court filing, the journalist’s family said there could be no objective analysis of evidence unless the persons involved in the investigation are “completely independent from any connection which could cast a shadow” over their objectivity and impartiality.

The Maltese government has offered a 1m euro reward for information about the journalist's murder.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in