All of us want justice for Daphne

This country has a festering wound that needs treatment. We may not agree with Daphne’s style or politics but we are all behind the need to nail the people who sat down and conceived and planned the murder

Adrian Delia was confronted by Helene Asciak, sister of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia
Adrian Delia was confronted by Helene Asciak, sister of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

You have to feel pity for PN leader Adrian Delia, who on Wednesday as he approached the siege memorial – now the unofficial memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia – had to face the wrath of Helene, Daphne’s sister.

Speaking to Delia in English, she directed him elsewhere, telling him he was not welcome. PN grandee Louis Galea, standing behind Delia, looked on in complete bewilderment. 

Delia is trying very hard to build bridges in a political climate where he knows that the faction from his party allied to the memory of Caruana Galizia consider him to be in the same infernal league as Joseph Muscat.

Delia could never have known in the summer of 2017, when he lashed out at Caruana Galizia after his corporate services to a Soho brothel owner were outed by her, that she would be killed. Delia had just kick-started a string of defamation cases against her. Muscat was treated far worse than Delia, but never twitched in all those years or made reference to her, neither did he take her to court. He is too shrewd to have given her any importance.

What was worse: some PN parliamentarians who stab Adrian Delia in the back chose not to accompany him to the memorial. Instead they got together and made it a point to attend the vigil in the evening. I am referring here specifically to Karol Aquilina, Jason Azzopardi and Simon Busuttil, who were embraced with open arms by those who gathered at the vigil in stark contrast to Delia’s cold reception. 

The fundamental problem here is rather simple. The people who devotedly keep up the tempo, have no patience or tolerance for individuals not devoted to Daphne. And this narrative, that anyone who is critical of Caruana Galizia or was in any way critical of her writings, is somehow part of the wider plot against her, is unfortunate.

It follows that if one is in disagreement with what she wrote, or if by extension someone is remotely supportive of this government’s policies, then they have no right to be part of the public who call for justice.

This is not the time to judge Caruana Galizia, or write her full story. That will be done by someone with the right perspective – when the clutter and media frenzy settles down. It will probably not be a Roberto Saviano or a Stephen Gray to write it, but someone who will piece the whole story together with the deep insight of her work’s true character and political affiliations.

What is crucial now is to solve the crime. On this (in spite of how difficult it is to reach out to her family and friends because of the way they view ‘the others’), they are completely correct in saying that justice is being delayed. It is true that three men well known in the criminal underworld have been arraigned, but the masterminds are at large.

It is also true that Europol has been working closely with the Maltese police but it is not enough. To be fair with the police, there has been mistrust between the family and the investigators, with the family dictating in an unorthodox manner to a certain extent what should be done or not done – with crucial evidence such as the laptop that was not passed on, and access to working documents and sources denied, on the premise that valuable contacts would be or could be leaked.

In reality the only leaks that took place appear to have taken place by those close to the family.

So, there has to be more trust. I do not believe there is anyone who does not want this case to be solved.

But this is not a case only for the benefit of the family. In spite of the bad blood that existed between us as journalists, I have to admit that Daphne did dive into some very dangerous waters. Her writings about fuel smuggling and to a lesser extent, drug barons, even though lacking in rich detail, opened her up to serious risks. Often unconfirmed pieces opened her up to threats which were not taken seriously enough. We are all reckless but she was very much more than that.

Some call it courage, and perhaps it was.

When we met in my office in September 2016 after she asked to meet up, we discussed this subject. She called on me to join her crusade against corruption. I told her that I agreed with the deep-rooted nature of corruption but could not see why she continued to make a difference because one was a Labourite or a Nationalist. 

We agreed to bury the hatchet until that peace was broken with the Egrant story, which I knew was untrue. We all know how that started and ended.

Those who call for justice have to start believing that many of us want justice. All of us want to know who the perpetrators are. We may not agree with Daphne’s style or politics but we are all behind the need to nail the people who sat down and conceived and planned the murder.

Those who argue that we lashed out at Daphne and added to the state of impunity and her death, are grossly unfair. The exchange was down to words, opinions and observations about her work as a publicist for big business or the lack of fact-checking, the style and bias as a journalist, and the inattentive attributes and guilt-by-association she delighted in.

This country has a festering wound that needs treatment

This country has a festering wound that needs treatment. As Maltese journalists we need to continue some of the work she started – the many leads that were addressed in her writings which were just a small part of a complex web which led to a widespread criminal network that is too powerful and dangerous to be tackled by one irreverent and daring journalist.

This tragedy must serve to bring us together, not divide us further. It is wishful thinking, if even the media cannot come together on this one, shackled by egos, hang-ups and political territories. We need to see the bigger picture, to come together and make this country a better place.