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The day that changed Malta

Malta has changed, but the brutal murder of Daphne casts an unwelcome light on Malta that many in Europe thought of as a holiday destination

27 October 2017, 8:55am
When a life is lost in the pursuit of truth, we all have a responsibility to take action
When a life is lost in the pursuit of truth, we all have a responsibility to take action
Few crimes in Europe have caused global outrage as the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

If alive today, Daphne would still be seeking the truth, sitting in front of her computer and penning her blog. The silencing of Daphne through murder represents a dark and bleak day for democracy but most of all for freedom of expression globally.

This week the United States Department of State adding their voice condemning the “appalling violence that took place against Daphne in the strongest terms” calling it a “cowardly attack” against a reporter who was dedicated to fighting corruption. Daphne’s death leaves a void in Maltese journalism and the horror of circumstances surrounding her murder creates fear for those who speak out.

Daphne had spoken previously about the dangers she was facing with some of the investigations she was dealing with.

Only two weeks earlier, she had reported threats against her to the police. Her fearless blog Running Commentary continually targeted many powerful figures, including money-laundering banks, mafia-linked gambling companies and politicians and businessmen allegedly receiving covert payments.

No one was exempt from Daphne’s digital cross-examination, and her language was always searing. Whatever one thinks of her style, it worked with over 400,000 readers on a good day. Daphne’s ability to trigger debate was a testament to the success of her reporting and her dedication to the pursuit of truth. Those searing words spared no punches and sometimes struck at the heart of its intenders. 

At last count, Malta’s online court registry listed 42 pending libel cases against the prominent journalist. This, many consider, is itself an attack on freedom of the Press. The most recently filed were a string of cases filed by newly elected opposition Nationalist Party (PN) leader Adrian Delia, whom Daphne had linked to a prostitution racket in Soho, insisting that Delia had held the proceeds of a number of West London brothels in a bank account bearing his name. Delia insists it was a client account and that he had resigned from the company owning the property after becoming aware of its use.

In her final blog entry on her website, Daphne described crooks being everywhere now, before signing off with a foreboding “This situation is desperate.”

Investigative storytelling should never be a life or death affair. True, you never know the enemies you will make and how far those enemies will go to silence you but nonetheless, passion and a sense of nationalism are the key motivators which sprang journalists like Daphne to the top of their game. 

Malta has changed, but the brutal murder of Daphne casts an unwelcome light on Malta that many in Europe thought of as a holiday destination. Justice in this case is not being served by calling names and making baseless allegations but it must be stated, whatever you may think of the shortcomings of the Island’s political class, they are not in the habit of hiring hitmen to silence opponents.

The rule of law is under strain. There have been several other car bombings in recent months, none of the car bombings including three in 2016 alone has been solved, leaving many to wonder whether the police will ever get to the bottom of things.

The authorities on this occasion need to prove now that this kind of transgression will not be allowed to pass with impunity. When a life is lost in the pursuit of truth, we all have a responsibility to take action. 

 

Patrick J. O Brien

Sliema

DealToday
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