Brussels calls on Malta to find barbarous assassins of Caruana Galizia

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans says Malta must solve potential structural problems with rule of law

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans
Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans

The European Commission called on Malta to find the “barbarous” assassins of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia nd resolve “potential structural problems” with the rule of law on the island.

Caruana Galizia was killed on 16 October when a powerful bomb blew up her car.

In the European Commission’s strongest comments yet on concerns about systemic democratic failings in the EU’s smallest state, First Vice President Frans Timmermans told world media editors in a letter that Malta should leave “no stone unturned” in the hunt for her killers.

“The eyes of Europe are on the Maltese authorities,” wrote Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister who as Jean-Claude Juncker’s deputy oversees the Brussels executive’s efforts to ensure member states respect democratic and judicial standards.

“If journalists are silenced, so is democracy,” he said in a reply, seen by Reuters, to a letter from European media editors urging the EU to ensure justice for Caruana Galizia.

“We want those directly and indirectly responsible for this horrible murder to be brought to justice. And we want the investigations to run their full course, so that any other related wrongdoings that may emerge can also be prosecuted and potential structural problems be resolved,” he added.

Caruana Galizia was a controversial figure who accused many of the most senior figures in both government and opposition of corruption and involvement in international money-laundering.

“We insist that the Maltese authorities leave no stone unturned to make sure that this atrocious, barbarous assassination does not lead to the situation that the perpetrators apparently want to achieve: that no-one dares ask pertinent questions and no journalist dares investigate the powers that be,” he added.

“This will not happen in Europe. Not on this Commission’s watch.”

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says everything will be done to find Caruana Galizia’s killers. Malta announced a €1 million reward and protection for anyone providing information to help identify whoever was behind the murder.

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