Towards ‘truth and justice’

There are some aspects to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s career that we can all agree upon, regardless of our differences in opinion

A lot has been said and written about Daphne Caruana Galizia since her brutal assassination two years ago last Wednesday.

As is only too customary when famous people die – for Caruana Galizia was undeniably famous in Malta in her own lifetime, and has become infinitely more so since her death – it remains difficult to dispassionately assess the legacy she has left behind.

Suffice it to say that, on the one hand, Daphne Caruana Galizia has been exalted as a ‘martyr’ who was killed ‘in the pursuit of truth and justice’; while others continue to dismiss her as a biased social commentator who pursued a classist, destructive agenda.

Given the sheer gulf that separates these two, mutually exclusive extremes of opinion, there can clearly never be any true consensus on the question of who Daphne Caruana Galizia really was, and what she really represented in life.

Whatever one’s views of Daphne Caruana Galizia herself, however, there can be no denying that the act of killing her – and the way in which the murder was executed – was a heinous crime aimed at inflicting maximum terror on the country as a whole.

Caruana Galizia herself was not the only targeted victim: the bomb that blew up her car on that fateful day also shattered our collective piece of mind. Apart from cutting a human being’s life short in such a savage, brutal way, the murder also sent out a chilling message to the rest of society. It was an open threat to any other who would dare meddle in any form of criminal activity; as such, Daphne’s murderers also struck a blow directly against the forces of law and order as a whole.

Faced with these facts, there are some aspects to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s career that we can all agree upon, regardless of our differences in opinion. No one in his right mind, for instance, can possibly deny that Daphne Caruana Galizia was extraordinarily courageous. One does not even need to have an opinion about her writing, to stand in awe of bravery of such astonishing proportions.

From this, it should follow – but, sadly, does not – that one need not have been an admirer of Daphne Caruana Galizia in life, to also be shocked, saddened and angered by her assassination; or, for that matter, to demand justice for the deceased, as well as her bereaved family.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the aftermath of Daphne’s death is precisely this: some of us seem to have lost sight of some of the most basic, fundamental aspects of humanity. Like sympathy for the dead, regardless for our feelings for them in life.

There is, of course, an ironic flipside to this argument. Daphne Caruana Galizia herself would certainly be the first to disagree: among the many things her detractors still hold against her was the callous way she herself had responded to the deaths of others (Dom Mintoff and Guido De Marco being the obvious examples).

But considerations such as this only take us back to square one. It is, in fact, utterly illogical to deplore Daphne Caruana Galizia’s gleeful reactions to those passings, while also extending the same treatment to Daphne Caruana Galizia after her own death.

Moreover, there is nothing to be gained by clinging to such past grievances; on the contrary, there is everything to lose.

The first and most important loss will be our ability to pick up the pieces and move on… to put behind us this grim, dark event that still casts such a long shadow over Malta, and will no doubt continue to do so for a long time to come.

But this is a process that can only truly begin when (or if) justice is, in fact, meted out to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murderers. Unfortunately, the very divisiveness of her legacy also makes that prospect less likely than ever.

One other thing on which there should be universal consensus – but evidently, there isn’t – is the need for the full truth to come out regarding exactly who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, and why.

From this perspective, it is to say the least unhelpful to cast wild aspersions as ‘facts’, without an iota of evidence in support of the various claims. And already, far too much speculation has been allowed to muddy the waters of the investigation.

In this case, three people are in the process of being charged with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder; and while there is certainly room to speculate that others may have been involved… it is surely the job of the criminal investigators to establish their identities; and of the criminal justice system to pronounce them guilty or not guilty, on the basis of hard evidence presented in court.

Until the trial has run its full course, it is patently useless for individual citizens – be they politicians, journalists or whatever – to simply assume the role of judge, jury and executioner themselves.

All things told, then, the first step must surely be to put emotions aside, and allow the investigation the space it needs to do its job properly.

Only then can we really talk about ‘truth and justice’ for Daphne Caruana Galizia.