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[WATCH] Journalists highlight administrative responsibility in Daphne murder

Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder has aroused heated debate on political responsibility, Malta’s institutions, confidence in the police and journalists' role

massimo_costa
Massimo Costa
19 October 2017, 10:13pm
Journalists were in agreement that the government should have insisted on providing police protection to Daphne Caruana Galizia
Journalists were in agreement that the government should have insisted on providing police protection to Daphne Caruana Galizia
Journalists discussing Daphne Caruana Galizia’s savage murder agreed that some level of administrative responsibility had to be shouldered.

Herman Grech, from the Times of Malta, Peppi Azzopardi, Xarabank host, and Matthew Vella, MaltaToday editor, appearing on Xtra, agreed that those within the executive, whose failings contributed to a journalist being killed, should take responsibility for this and act accordingly. Former journalist Felix Agius also agreed but insisted it would be wise to wait for the investigations to be concluded.

Discussions on Caruana Galizia’s courage, irreverence, investigative prowess and controversial side ignited a debate on what is being seen as a general lack of confidence in the Maltese police force.

“We have not even been told what the police are doing in the wake of this crime,” Azzopardi said. Grech argued that the police commissioner had by Thursday morning not yet issued a statement on the murder that shook a nation, making Malta “not a normal country”.

The programme was recorded on Thursday afternoon before the police held a crime conference at their headquarters in Floriana.

Matthew Vella maintained the police were only strong with the weak
Matthew Vella maintained the police were only strong with the weak
Grech highlighted the importance of justice being seen to be done, and for the police to engage with the public, while Vella argued that in the case of the Panama Papers scandal, the police did not even start an investigation.

“The police are only strong with the weak,” Vella said, maintaining that they do not act on the big important cases but go after smaller fry, such as when they raided a bar frequented by migrants in Marsa.

He elaborated that the police were still in the clutches of politicians and that the Maltese were victims of partitocracy.

Grech mentioned that a current online poll suggests that more than 80% of respondents did not have faith that Caruana Galizia’s killers will ever be found, but he acknowledged that there were many individual police officers who did a good job, many times for little remuneration.

Connected to this, Azzopardi argued that people had lost faith in the country’s institutions. Grech added that this had been happening for a long time, even during the Nationalist administration.

While Agius claimed that this topic had already been discussed prior to the June election, Azzopardi retorted that the institutions problem did not disappear with this government’s re-election.

All four journalists agreed that despite Caruana Galizia refusing police protection, with there not having been any fixed-point police surveillance outside her home since 2010, the government should have insisted and provided her with protection nonetheless.

There was also general agreement that a reward, be it that for €20,000 offered by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or that for €1 million offered by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, was a positive thing if it would lead to the murderer being caught.

While the Caruana Galizia family has refused to endorse Muscat’s reward, Azzopardi insisted that the family needed to be treated very sensitively, and had he been in their place, he would have reacted the same way.

As Azzopardi emphasised the severity and seriousness of what had happened, Vella opinionated that it was inevitable that in the context of the case, a debate between Malta’s main political parties would erupt.

“There is a danger that such debates become instrumentalised,” Vella said. He maintained that Malta had never let go of the bi-partisan politics idea, and a tit-for-tat type of debate between parties was the norm. A curtailment of cross-party insults was necessary when it came to this murder case.

The complete absence of civil society participation in Malta was pointed out by Grech and Vella. People seemed unwilling to debate others with different viewpoints, preferring to air their opinions with those of similar minds in an echo chamber. There was nothing wrong with criticising the party you support, and this did not seem to be happening in Maltese society.

Daphne Caruana Galizia's courage was highlighted by her continuing to write despite her fears, Peppi Azzopardi said
Daphne Caruana Galizia's courage was highlighted by her continuing to write despite her fears, Peppi Azzopardi said
Regarding the impact of what had happened, and the fear that might have been instilled in journalists following the car bomb, Agius said it would be a very bad thing if journalists were discouraged.

Grech, however, referred to this morning’s journalists gathering, the underlying message of which was that this crime would not stop journalism. Azzopardi added that it was not true that Caruana Galizia was fearless – she did have her fears, but her courage was demonstrated by her continuing to write despite her fears.

Asked about what he thought the motive for the assassination was, Vella said that the logistics and funds required to commit such an act might point to organised crime, possibly with foreigners involved.

massimo_costa
Massimo Costa joined MaltaToday in 2017 as a journalist. He is a graduate in European Stud...