Caruana Galizia public inquiry: slain journalist's son says police slept on key information

The first session of the public inquiry into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder took place today

A public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder started in court today
A public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder started in court today
11:54 Today’s sitting has now concluded. The next sitting will be held on 10 December and will see Daphne Caruana Galizia’s parents and sisters taking the stand Massimo Costa
11:54 “She was not considered a person, she was dehumanised,” Peter Caruana Galizia says of his late wife. "It appears that the Electrogas contract was what led to her death, although it appears that other people were involved,” he says Massimo Costa
11:52 Peter Caruana Galizia says that it was now appearing that the government, or at least the Office of the Prime Minister were involved in Daphne’s murder. “Therefore one can conclude that had something been done on corruption, on Electrogas, the Panama Papers…” Peter Caruana Galizia says, referring to the view that action by the authorities could have prevented her death Massimo Costa
11:50 Responding to a question by family lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia, Peter Caruana Galizia says Daphne had started being described as a “hate blogger” and some ministers had also called her that, including Justice Minister Owen Bonnici. “This hurt her and us,” Caruana Galizia tells the inquiry Massimo Costa
11:46 Peter Caruana Galizia goes on to tell the inquiry that the fact Joseph Muscat had kept Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri in their posts after the Panama Papers revelations showed that there was a situation of impunity or problems with State capture Massimo Costa
11:45 At its highest, Daphne’s blog had over 500,000 readers, Peter Caruana Galizia says in reply to a question from the board. There was a buildup of hatred against her by people who had never read her blog or couldn’t even understand it, he says Massimo Costa
11:44 Turning again to the freezing of Daphne’s bank accounts after libel suits from minister Chris Cardona, Peter Caruana Galizia says this was very stressful for his late wife, because she had to pay contributors and suppliers Massimo Costa
11:43 Peter Caruana Galizia responds by saying his family believe that, had the police and FIAU taken action after the Panama Papers revelations [things could have turned out differently]. Former FIAU director Manfred Galdes and former Police Commissioner Michael Cassar had both resigned from their posts probably because of pressure to do nothing, Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
11:41 Inquiry board member Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino tells Peter Caruana Galizia that the board was there to decide on whether Malta’s institutions had failed or not to prevent Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder Massimo Costa
11:39 When Daphne had started writing about the now judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera, she had started to receive a lot of anonymous letters and on one occasion had received handcuffs in her letterbox, Peter Caruana Galizia says. He says he had chosen to not tell her about the handcuffs, and she had died without ever knowing about them Massimo Costa
11:36 Peter Caruana Galizia goes on to give details of an incident involving Zurrieq mayor Ignatius Farrugia. He says Farrugia and others has chased Daphne into a Rabat convent. He had been charged in court and convicted, but due to a mistake in his sentence, he had been freed Massimo Costa
11:31 Asked by the inquiry board whether after the 2013 election there was police protection, Peter Caruana Galizia said he could not remember. There probably was protection for a couple of days after election day, he says. Later police patrols had replaced fixed point guards, but subsequent to the replacement of Rizzo, this had suddenly all stopped Massimo Costa
11:30 Sometimes, police who were assigned to offer Daphne protection would send info to Glenn Bedingfield, Peter Caruana Galizia says. Former Police Commissioner John Rizzo would insist that she had to be protected whether she wanted it nor not, he says Massimo Costa
11:29 Peter Caruana Galizia continues recounting measures put in place to try to stop Daphne’s writings. The VAT and Inland Revenue departments had started sending many assessments based on her bank records. When one considers the sum of this, it is apparent a system was in place to stop Daphine, Peter says. "When I look back at what we went through, I don't even want to believe it,” he says Massimo Costa
11:27 Peter Caruana Galizia says that the family had found out after Daphne’s death that Pilatus Bank had filed libel proceedings against her in the US and had withdrawn the on the day of her death. The demand was for some $2million in damages Massimo Costa
11:26 Christian Palin of Henley and Partner had engaged Mishcon de Reya to sue Daphne in England, Peter Caruana Galizia tells the board. Daphne had been told that this was with the blessing of Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Justice Minister Owen Bonnici as well as government official Jonathan Attard. She had published a private email exchange, leaked to her by a source, on her blog Massimo Costa
11:23 Later, Peter Caruana Galizia says, the trend of filing libel suits against Daphne started. It seemed that there was a plan to file as many libels as possible Massimo Costa
11:21 Things got so bad that Daphne had ended up not going to the beach, because people would take photos of her, Peter Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
11:20 Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield had started a blog to attack Daphne, and there were thousands of posts on her private life, Peter Caruana Galizia says. Bedingfield was being paid by the taxpayer and would write such posts during working hours. “It wasn't a hobby, he was employed by the Office of the Prime Minister to write a blog against her.” Massimo Costa
11:18 Peter Caruana Galizia goes on to recall how Daphne’s car would be keyed or have its tyres slashed once people recognised her DCG001 numberplate. She ended up using her son’s car, as he was abroad Massimo Costa
11:15 There were times when people had filed fake police reports against Daphne, the journalist’s widower says. She had even been arraigned in court on one occasion, but nothing had come of it Massimo Costa
11:14 After the billboard incident, people had started shouting abuse at her in the street, sometimes people would spit at her, Peter Caruana Galizia continues. Daphne had taken it very badly, but there was no legal remedy, he says Massimo Costa
11:14 The process of dehumanisation began at this point, Peter says. “She would not have stopped if Lawrence Gonzi had told her to. She was a private person and had turned down many offers of interviews and TV appearances,” he says. Massimo Costa
11:13 Another turning point in their family life was when, during the 2013 election campaign, the Labour Party had put Daphne’s picture on a billboard with those of PN officials, Peter Caruana Galizia tells the inquiry board. “My wife was not in the party, she was not a politician and it was unacceptable. But Labour had been running a rumour that she had been paid by the PN to write stories about the PL. This was absolutely not true,” Peter Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
11:11 Caruana Galizia goes on to speak about another incident which took place on 14 May 2006, when tyres had been set alight near their home and considerable damage to their property had been done. The incident was related to things Daphne had wrote concerning far-rightist Norman Lowell and his Imperium Europa party Massimo Costa
11:10 At the time, Daphne Caruana Galizia had said that it was wrong that the daughter of a minister should appear for Meinrad Calleja. Times of Malta had declined to publish her story on the matter, but the Malta Independent had run it. She was dropped by the Times shortly afterwards, Peter Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
11:07 Peter Caruana Galizia goes on to give an overview of his late wife’s career and work. He recounts how Daphne had written about convicted drug trafficker Meinrad Calleja, the son of Brigadier Maurice Calleja. After the attempt on Richard Cachia Caruana (Eddie Fenech Adami’s personal assistant at the time), someone had set the Caruana Galizia’s house's door on fire. “We were convinced that it was payback by Meinrad after her writings led to the resignation of Maurice Calleja,” Peter Caruana Galizia says, noting that nobody had been arraigned over the incident Massimo Costa
11:01 Anglu Farrugia, who was then a police inspector and is now Speaker, had held Daphne on trumped up charges, Peter Caruana Galizia says. This episode was a turning point in Daphne’s life, when she realised the power of the State Massimo Costa
11:00 Peter Caruana Galizia says he wants to give an insight into his family life since Daphne had first started receiving threats. He says he had met Daphne in 1984, when she was arrested for protesting. At the time, she had been arrested for 36 hours Massimo Costa
10:58 Lawyer Peter Caruana Galizia, widower of Daphne Caruana Galizia, has now taken the stand Massimo Costa
10:56 The inquiry board says it is reserving the right to decide at a later stage on whether it will obtain the TAP3 mobile network files on Chris Cardona’s whereabouts Massimo Costa
10:54 Lawyer Comodini Cachia went on to say that the TAP3 information will be necessary when the public inquiry comes to discuss whether the police had done their job properly. “I am asking that the board obtain a copy of the TAP3 files.. because they could give more information to the board for the motives involved and the risk which the journalist found herself in,” Comodini Cachia says Massimo Costa
10:52 Jason Azzopardi, also a lawyer for the Caruana Galizia family, said obtaining the TAP3 files was an urgent matter, because if the location information contained within them confirmed Minister Cardona was were Caruana Galizia had claimed he was at the time, this would mean Cardona had perjured himself, since he had sworn under oath that he had not been at a brothel Massimo Costa
10:51 The sitting has recommenced. Caruana Galizia family lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia is asking the board to obtain the copies of the TAP3 mobile network files relating to Chris Cardona's libel case against Daphne Caruana Galizia surrounding her claims of the Economy Minister having been at a German brothel while on government duty .(TAP3 files include call and text message timestamps; location area codes of where calls, text message or data were made sent and used; and other information) Massimo Costa
10:30 The inquiry board is now taking a short break Massimo Costa
10:30 Caruana Galizia notes that many of the requests for information on 17 Black by Malta’s police were directed to the United Arab Emirates, but at the same time, the person representing Malta in the UAE owns a company - called Beat Limited - which is in business with Electrogas Massimo Costa
10:26 Matthew Caruana Galizia says it was unbelievable that four years after the Panama Papers leaks and the revelation of information by Daphne Caruana Galizia, the police were still trying to find out who owned the secret Dubai company 17 Black Massimo Costa
10:24 “17 Black is the vehicle of Yorgen Fenech which features in the Panama Papers,” Matthew Caruana Galizia continues, “He [Fenech] would have had his own financial facilitators which would have set it up for him. Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri would have used Nexia BT, while Fenech used as yet unknown corporate services providers.” Massimo Costa
10:22 Caruana Galizia continues telling the court about the Electrogas deal. “Electrogas is a vehicle for the money laundering network which Mossack Fonseca set up. What we see in the Panama Papers is a section of this network... The key purpose of this network was to siphon money from the Electrogas creation,” Matthew Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
10:21 In 2013, Daphne had started receiving documents from a whistleblower in the Electrogas power station deal, Matthew Caruana Galizia tells the public inquiry. “I was in direct communication with the whistleblower and the leak did not stop till April 2018. If that [the leaking of information by the whistleblower] was what Yorgen Fenech was worried about, he would have used other means,” Matthew Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
10:17 Matthew Caruana Galizia says a constellation of interests had aimed at shutting up his mother. Daphne had told him that, with the myriad of libel cases instituted against her, she had felt felt she was being fried alive. "I feel like they're frying me alive," Daphne had told her son Massimo Costa
10:16 Matthew Caruana Galizia goes on to recount how Daphne had published a story about former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri receiving treatment for cancer, thinking this would not have had a big impact and would likely just elicit public sympathy for Schembri. She had been shocked when the response to this had been “legal harassment”, he says Massimo Costa
10:15 Matthew Caruana Galizia tells the inquiry board that he and his mother Daphne had received security training, which helped open his eyes to the real risks they were exposed to Massimo Costa
10:14 Inquiry board member Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro asks Matthew Caruana Galizia about how police protection for Daphne had been withdrawn. "I think with the removal of [former Police Commissioner] John Rizzo things changed,” Matthew Caruana Galizia says. Protection was briefly reinstated during the hunting referendum (which Daphne had been vocal about), he says Massimo Costa
10:10 Matthew Caruana Galizia goes on to stress that all he was recounting depicted a situation which was not normal. “That a Police Commissioner should feel that at the time of a referendum or election my mother should need police protection [is not normal],” Caruana Galizia tells the inquiry board Massimo Costa
10:09 “My mother wrote about it in detail and filed a complaint which led to a court case. In that case, the magistrate made a mistake in the judgment and as a result Farrugia was pardoned, if I remember well, and served no effective sentence,” Matthew Caruana Galizia says of the case involving Ignatius Farrugia Massimo Costa
10:08 Another incident, Matthew Caruana Galizia says, was when Labour Zurrieq mayor Ignatius Farrugia had led a mob after Daphne, taunting her and shouting at her. This incident was one of the most worrying, and had taken place around 2014 during a feast in Rabat, he says Massimo Costa
10:07 Therese Comodini Cachia goes on to ask Matthew Caruana Galizia whether Daphne had experienced incidents of physical aggression. Matthew Caruana Galizia replies that in May 2017, a woman had tried to physically assault Daphne in Valletta Massimo Costa
10:05 Replying to Said Pullicino, Caruana Galizia family lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia says that a dossier on the subject is being prepared. Over the past two weeks, however, so many things had happened that their preparations which they would submit to the public inquiry had been derailed Massimo Costa
10:03 Inquiry board member Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino says that he thinks that they should pinpoint where the institutions failed after the murder. "We are talking about State entities, that is what we are obliged to investigate" Mallia says Massimo Costa
10:02 “I never noticed anyone following me [before the murder], although I was being followed - the police told me” Matthew Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
10:01 Asked by Judge Michel Mallia if he had noticed any suspicious activity before Daphne’s murder, Matthew Caruana Galizia says their dog had gotten very sick and nearly died. The vet was unable to determine the cause. The hitmen might have thrown a piece of poisoned meat into the garden, Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
10:00 Despite this, Daphne had felt confident that she would win the case after the court issued a decree saying the cell tower records, which would have proved minister Chris Cardona’s whereabouts at the time, would be preserved, Matthew Caruana Galizia tells the inquiry Massimo Costa
09:59 The freezing of Daphne’s accounts after Economy Minister Chris Cardona sued her [after she had claimed that he had been at a brothel in Germany while on a government trip], was the worst incident, Matthew Caruana Galizia says. "I felt the ground collapsing under my feet. Everything I assumed about the state vanished. She was helpless, I felt helpless,” he says Massimo Costa
09:57 Another incident involved a person, who later turned out to be a government employee, who had once been photographed placing anti-Daphne propaganda at the University, Matthew Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
09:56 Matthew Caruana Galizia continues describing incidents involving his mother. There was one time, he says, when someone had accused Daphne of crashing into him and a great song and dance was made of it by the police. On another occasion, a police officer had perjured herself in a separate case about a parking ticket given to Daphne. When the officer had gotten off the stand, she had told someone in the courtroom “That's what you told me to say, right?" Massimo Costa
09:54 Caruana Galizia replies that their house had in the past been set on fire and their dogs were poisoned. However, after 2013 things got worse and worse, he says. “My mother was more isolated. There was a campaign to isolate her through Glenn Bedingfield's blog and so on. Libels intensified, police harassment intensified.” Massimo Costa
09:53 Judge Michael Mallia asks Matthew Caruana Galizia what kind of protection was offered to Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2013. “Were there any threats?” Mallia asks. Massimo Costa
09:52 Matthew Caruana Galizia places the blame for the failures of the authorities to prosecute the man who are suspected of having been part of the murder of his mother at the feet of Police Economics Crimes Unit head Ian Abdilla and Attorney General Peter Grech. “The problem is Ian Abdilla and Peter Grech. There is no explanation for the chief prosecutor's passivity in the face of clear corruption and criminal activity,” he says Massimo Costa
09:50 Matthew Caruana Galizia goes on to say that the police’s failure to prosecute Melvin Theuma for money laundering and illegal gambling allow him to act as the middleman in the murder Massimo Costa
09:49 Matthew Caruana Galizia says that the failure to prosecute the tal-Maksar brothers [Adrian Agius and Robert Agius] for previous crimes meant that they could put together the bomb which killed his mother. [Suspected middleman in the Caruana Galizia murder, Melvin Theuma, claimed that the bomb had been built by “tal-Maksar”] Massimo Costa
09:46 “A country where journalists who report on corruption must live under police protection means that criminal justice has failed. Nobody wants police protection... who would want to meet a journalist with the police present Massimo Costa
09:45 Matthew Caruana Galizia acknowledges that there are officers in the police force who are determined to do their job properly. “But police patrols near her house were stopped after the new Police Commissioner was appointed,” he claims Massimo Costa
09:44 “If my mother was murdered to prevent her from publishing evidence in the hands Ian Abdilla and the FIAU then [Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect] Yorgen Fenech must have been absolutely certain that Abdilla and the Attorney General would have never pressed charges against him,” Matthew Caruana Galizia says Massimo Costa
09:43 Matthew Caruana Galizia looks at a possible scenario behind his mother’s murder: that she was assassinated to prevent her from publishing evidence of corruption and money laundering by government officials and other parties, which the Police Economic Crimes Unit, headed by Ian Abdilla, and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit had compiled Massimo Costa
09:40 He continues to focus on the investigation into his mother’s murder, asking why Keith Schembri was willing to take risks to sabotage investigation. He says that Schembri and OPM head of customer care Sandro Craus had arranged for state funds to be embezzled to give Melvin Theuma a salary while Massimo Costa
09:38 He speaks about past cases investigated by his mother, like those involving Nexia BT, as well as passport sales and land transfers. He says that considering the evidence in court, the court should consider the government's position to block the inquiry for so long as suspicious Massimo Costa
09:38 Caruana Galizia says that all perpetrators of this should be removed from public life "and ideally have their liberty taken away from them." Massimo Costa
09:36 He tells the court how over the past two years, the Labour Party had insinuated that he had murdered his own mother, in an effort to derail the investigation and blame the delays on the Caruana Galizia family Massimo Costa
09:36 Caruana Galizia asks: “Keith Schembri's doctor, Vella confessed under interrogation that he was passing on messages. Why did he take such a risk?” Massimo Costa
09:35 Caruana Galizia says that his just an opening statement rather than a complete collection of evidence, and is based on evidence he would like to have the opportunity to give later Massimo Costa
09:34 Matthew Caruana Galizia goes on to explain how his personal focus started to shift to corruption in Malta. "One thing I did not insert into the statement I am presenting is that prior to the murder of my mother’s assassination, he worked abroad working on investigation into globalised corruption. It was what was done to my mother which got me involved in everything going on in Malta. Before this I was a neutral person focused on my job in anti-corruption investigations.” Massimo Costa
09:32 A public inquiry should not have been something the family had to request, Caruana Galizia says. He asks the inquiry board for full disclosure of evidence and the ability to summon witnesses. “As the inquiry has means which exceeds my family’s, I leave it to the court. There is a chance to change Malta - but the inquiry cannot be a complete reckoning,” he says Massimo Costa
09:30 Matthew Caruana Galizia is the first to take the witness stand. He explains that his testimony will contain some personal opinions. The family’s lawyer, Therese Commodini Cachia, explains that his testimony could be coloured but that he would be testifying about the facts Massimo Costa
09:29 The sitting starts with Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia reading out the terms of reference to the inquiry Massimo Costa
09:27 Good morning. The first session of the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder is taking place in court today. Follow us for continuous live updates. Massimo Costa

The first sitting of the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia took place in court this morning.

Caruana Galizia's son, Matthew Caruana Galizia and widower Peter Caruana Galizia, gave testimony before the board.

Matthew Caruana Galizia said that the police and Attorney General’s failure to take action in the face of evidence of corruption and financial crime had been what created the situation which led to his mother’s assassination.

He spoke about how there had been a concerted effort from various sections to hound his mother and stop her from writing.

Matthew and Peter Caruana Galizia also spoke of the corruption surrounding the Electrogas deal, with Peter Caruana Galizia says it appears that her revelations about the power station contract is what led to her assassination, although other people were also involved.

Both also went through the various episodes of harassment and intimidation which Daphne Caruana Galizia had suffered over the years, including the freezing of her bank accounts.

Peter Caruana Galizia said that, when Police Commissioner John Rizzo was replaced shortly after the 2013 election, all police protection which had been granted to his late wife had been withdrawn.

Caruana Galizia family laywers Therese Comodini Cachia and Jason Azzopardi also requested that the board obtain the TAP3 mobile network files which would conclusively show whether Economy Minister Chris Cardona had visited a brothel when he was in Germany on government business, and Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported.

The inquiry reserved its right to make a decision of obtaining the TAP3 files at a later stage.

Former judge Michael Mallia is chairing the inquiry board, while Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro are the board’s other two members.

The independent public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s assassination has finally started after changes to the inquiry board’s composition were agreed to by the journalist’s family in November.

Read also: The seven salient changes in the terms of the Caruana Galizia public inquiry

The Council of Europe had previously imposed a three-month deadline for the Maltese government to set up an inquiry into whether Caruana Galizia’s death could have been prevented.

The public inquiry will have to determine whether any wrongful action or omission by or within any State entity could have facilitated the assassination of Caruana Galizia or failed to prevent it, particularly whether the State knew or should have known of risks to the journalist’s life “at the time” of her murder.

It must also consider whether the State not only knew of, but “caused” risks to Caruana Galizia’s life.

Although its terms of reference allow for restrictions on the publication of the inquiry's report, it specifies that the board must provide the family with the opportunity to read the full report, including the redacted parts, without being granted copies of the text underlying any redactions. The family are also prohibited from divulging the redacted content.

The inquiry board is bound to presenting the inquiry report, once it is completed, to the Prime Minister and Attorney General, to notify the public that the inquiry has been concluded and presented to the Prime Minister, and, most notably, to publish the report within eight working days from when it is delivered to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has to table the report in Parliament within five days of receiving it.

The inquiry must be completed within nine months.

More in Court & Police