Brief Caruana Galizia public inquiry session hears journalist

Public inquiry into murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia continued on Wednesday, with journalist Victor Paul Borg testifying

The public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder continued today, with the brief session seeing Victor Paul Borg, a freelance journalist, lament that investigative journalists end up isolated in Malta and that authorities fail to investigate their stories.

Borg was reminded by the Board that his testimony had to stick to matters related to Caruana Galizia.

He ended his testimony by asking the inquiry to make recommendations to protect journalists.

The next session will be held on Friday, with former OPM communications chief and Malta Enterprise CEO Kurt Farrugia expected to take the witness stand.

The public inquiry is tasked with, amongst other things, determining whether the State did all it could to prevent the murder from happening.

In the previous sitting, the public inquiry heard that documents linked to 17 Black and electronic equipment seized from Yorgen Fenech enabled police to identify a number of people for questioning.

The testimony was given by former Economic Crime Unit head Ian Abdilla when asked about the Memorandum and Articles of Association for Dubai company 17 Black that were seized from Yorgen Fenech's house.

Abdilla said the documents were sent to Dubai for authentication. "I cannot take a document that I had never seen the likes of before and say this is genuine… If I had to bet, the documents seized appeared authentic and genuine," he said. Abdilla added that as a consequence of the documents, a number of people of interest were identified for questioning.

READ MORE: Caruana Galizia public inquiry: 17 Black documents seized by police helped identify more people for questioning

Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb just outside her Bidnija home on 16 October 2017. Three men, George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat, have been charged with carrying out the assassination, while Yorgen Fenech is charged with masterminding the murder.

Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman between Fenech and the three killers, was granted a presidential pardon last year to tell all.

The inquiry is led by retired judge Michael Mallia, former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro.

10:14 Today's brief session has ended. The next session is scheduled for Friday, when former OPM communications chief Kurt Farrugia is expected to testify. PN MEP David Casa is due to testify on 22 July Massimo Costa
10:13 Borg's testimony ends here Massimo Costa
10:09 Borg asks the inquiry to testify about security aspects behind closed doors, but he is instructed to make his submissions in writing. He wants the Board to make recommendations that would protect journalists Massimo Costa
10:08 Borg says that he and fellow journalist Caroline Muscat ended up writing for the online news portal The Shift News and bearing the brunt of the risks, while the rest of the media ignored them and party media attacked them Massimo Costa
10:03 Journalists are also not paid well, especially in the post-COVID environment, Borg laments. "You end up alone... this is a crucial aspect. If the Board is going to protect journalists, it must strengthen journalism, not just stop [journalists] getting killed.” Massimo Costa
10:00 Borg tells the board that he was let go by Times of Malta, ostensibly due to the paper's financial position, but he hinted that there was pressure for this to happen. "This is the environment of threats, you end up isolated." Massimo Costa
09:57 Borg says that he was called up by OPM official about one of his articles, and was asked to delay publication by a day. When he gave a deadline of a few hours, he was told that in that case he would simply be ignored by the OPM in future Massimo Costa
09:55 "The point i'm making is when you publish an investigative piece, it is not taken up by the police,” Borg says. This ends up with the journalist being isolated, he says. “If you stop the journalist, nothing will come of it.” Massimo Costa
09:54 Borg recounts to the Board that, on 13 January this year, he had investigated some property deals and false declaration of ownership for the Times of Malta. At this point, the Board reminds him that it was only concerned with matters related to Daphne Caruana Galizia Massimo Costa
09:53 Borg tells the Board that, in Malta, the access investigative journalists have, in his experience, starts being cut off slowly, and the powers that be isolate the person concerned. Investigations on what is being reported don’t happen, he says Massimo Costa
09:52 Journalist Victor Paul Borg now takes the stand. Borg is a freelance journalist of some 18 years experience, having worked all over the world. Five years ago, he returned to Malta and started practising journalism here. One of the reasons he got into investigative journalism was the murder of Caruana Galizia, Borg tells the Board Massimo Costa
09:51 The inquiry has now started. The Board says that it had received an affidavit from Education Minister Owen Bonnici in which he said that during his time in office as justice minister, there were no Nexia BT servers hosted at the ministry. Bonnici was reacting to claims by fomer police Economic Crimes Unit chief Ian Abdilla that Nexia BT had servers located at the Justice Ministry Massimo Costa
09:49 Good morning. We're back in court for the continuation of the public inquiry into Daphne's murder Massimo Costa

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