Caruana Galizia family want court to remove minister's husband from police investigation

Daphne Caruana Galizia's family want Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta removed from the murder investigation, claiming he could have a conflict of interest

Deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta
Deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta

Daphne Caruana Galizia's family have asked the constitutional court to remove Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta from the investigation into her murder because of his marriage to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana.

The family is insisting that Valletta could have a possible conflict of interest.

The court application was filed this morning by lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Commodini Cachia on behalf of the slain journalist’s heirs. The family have argued that it was of great personal importance to them that the investigation be carried out in accordance with the "fundamental principles of the right to life and the right to a fair hearing".

"The Deputy Commissioner is a politically exposed person as defined at law, by virtue of the fact that he is married to a cabinet minister, that is, the Minister for Gozo, the Hon. Justyne Caruana… [Deputy Commissioner Valletta] is also the person appointed to the board of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit," read the application.

The family also pointed out that Valletta and his wife had been frequent subjects of Caruana Galizia's writings. She had also harshly criticised the FIAU and Valletta for this conflict of interest in view of the fact that members of Cabinet also featured in the Panama Papers dossier.

Valletta's continued involvement in the investigation could “hamper the objectivity of the analysis of the evidence", the family insisted.

The Caruana Galizia family said they were not being informed of the progress of the investigation and were keeping abreast of it through leaks to the media.

"Heading an investigation like this, with a stain on its impartiality and independence will likely lead to the absence of a fair hearing with regards to the plaintiffs," the family said.

The family asked the court to declare that Valletta's involvment reduced the independence and impartiality of the investigation and this amounted to a breach of their right to a fair hearing under European and domestic law.

They also requested the court to order Valletta not to continue participating in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation and have the findings so far revised by whoever is appointed in his stead.