Three people have been charged in relation to the murder of a Maltese journalist who shone a spotlight on alleged corruption on the island nation.
Malta’s security services have also released a dramatic video of part of the police operation in which 10 people were arrested in dawn raids in connection with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The charged men are George Degiorgio, 55, Alfred Degiorgio, 53, and Vincent Muscat, 55 – all of whom are from towns on the outskirts of the capital, Valletta, on the east of the island.
They were charged with murder, the criminal use of explosives, criminal conspiracy, and being involved in organised crime.
The security services’ footage shows a heavily armed special operations unit arriving at a waterfront warehouse by speedboat and unmarked vans on Monday. Authorities said operations were conducted simultaneously in the towns of Marsa, Zebbug, St Paul’s Bay, Msida and Mosta.
Other than the three charged men, seven of the other people arrested during the operation, which was carried out at 4am, have been released on bail.
The arrests and charges came just days after a European Parliament delegation visited the island on a fact-finding mission and said they were worried about the authorities’ ability to investigate powerful people on the island.
A spokesperson for the Maltese police said: “The FBI, Europol and the National Investigations Bureau of Finland provided important assistance, which led to the arrests and arraignments by the Police. The police force thanks the foreign services for the important assistance offered.”
Fifty-three-year-old Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in an apparently targeted bomb attack on her car on 16 October. Her popular blog had relentlessly highlighted cases of alleged high-level corruption targeting politicians from across party lines, including around the Panama Papers tax scandal.
Her killing has sparked protests on the island, with thousands marching against what some called the “mafia state”.
Her family made it known that they did not want the country’s Prime Minister or President – targets of her journalism – to attend her funeral.
And they alleged that the home affairs minister, Michael Farrugia, had divulged confidential information that could hamper the investigation into her death. The minister has dismissed the allegation.
Last week, a cross-party delegation of MEPs travelled to Malta to assess whether the country’s law enforcement system had been “compromised”. The European Parliament had previously backed a motion expressing concern about the country’s legal and justice system.
Green MEP Sven Giegold said the group had come away from the meetings “even more concerned over the rule of law now than before the visit, and we must follow up on what we found”.
But the delegation was criticised by the Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, who said it chose to meet with a disproportionate number of government critics and that its conclusions were “misguided”.
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