MEPs on latest revelations in Daphne murder: ‘She is still working for the truth’

The European Parliament discussed the latest developments surrounding the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination in Malta.

Justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia: anti-corruption activists protest outside the Maltese parliament
Justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia: anti-corruption activists protest outside the Maltese parliament

Malta’s MEPs took part in a one-hour debate in the European Parliament that took Malta to task over the role that high-ranking officials in the Labour government could have played in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The debate was introduced and capped off by European Commissioner Vera Jourova, who acknowledged Malta’s positive response in kickstarting important judicial and legal reforms.



“These are all steps in the right direction, but important concerns remain as regards the efficiency of the justice system, judicial proceedings taking very long… the anti corruption framework still lacks a track record of securing convictions in high level cases.”

Malta’s six MEPs addressed the Plenary, with Labour MEPs giving an impassioned defence of Robert Abela’s administration in addressing shortcomings identified by the Council of Europe as well as the European Commission. Nationalist MEPs paid tribute to the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia, whose work Jourova herself said was still making itself felt with the arraignment of Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff to former premier Joseph Muscat.

“We need those responsible for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, those who let it happen and those who tried to cover it up, to face justice,” said EP vice-president Roberta Metsola. “We need an end to impunity and justice for the stories she was killed for exposing. And we must prevent this happening ever again. That means strengthening our systems and giving Europol more authority on sharing evidence and investigations; It means having an Anti-SLAPP directive.”

Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer warned against using a political debate that could deter the course of justice by politicising the issue. “In the name of truth and justice, please stop politicising the judicial process. Mr Manfred Weber left the room, but I am sorry to hear him say that the Labour Party ‘knew in advance that Daphne would be killed’. We are the Labour Party, the party of work and progress… What we see here is a frenzy to score points before a general election.”

The Labour Party was taken to task as well. One EPP member, Paulo Rangel, called on the S&D to acknowledge the breach of European values that had taken place at the behest of the Labour government. Other MEPs, like Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White and Esteban Gonzalez Pons, said the S&D should sever ties with the Labour Party.

But one S&D MEP from the Netherlands, Lara Wolters, pointed out that the debate resembled other occasions in the Plenary where MEPs’ concerns “do not originate from genuine concerns about the EU or rule of law”. An acquaintance of Andrew Caruana Galizia, Wolters told the Chamber that she felt strong that “the Caruana Galizia family are not helped by the games played in this House.”

Labour MEP Alfred Sant urged the House to consider its role at a delicate time when criminals were being prosecuted on the assassination. “Now that we are prosecuting, there should be no place for political intervention in the judicial process – this debate is quite clearly intruding in the judicial procedure that has made slow but spectacular process. It brings no value added to the rule of law and justice process. This House has kept back from discussing the Sarkozy case or Barelas-Gurtel case in Spain – there are two weights and measures being applied today.”

His colleagues Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar had similar comments to make.

“The institutions in Malta are functioning, they are treating everyone equally. Our greatest priority is to see justice being served on the murder of the Caruana Galizia murder. This is why I cannot understand why the EP is trying to pass political judgement on a process that is still ongoing before our courts. Let us allow our courts to work freely and not make a mockery of it, that is loaded with partisanship,” Agius Saliba said.

“Today’s debate is insensitive to the realities of Malta…. Our society is seeking a stronger sense of reconciliation, so what sense does this debate make at a time when Malta is going through acts of judicial process, and numerous inquiries are underway to resolve major cases?” Cutajar asked.

Former EP president Antonio Tajani (EPP) warned that should people in power be linked to the Daphne assassination, then there was something more than murder at stake, “but a political plot to kill a journalist to discover something that they didn’t want to be discovered. That is why the Socialist group has to take a good look at itself – we can’t say that rule of law is more important in certain countries than others. We cannot bury our heads in the sand.”

16:00 This live-blog ends here. Matthew Vella
15:54 “The Commission is aware that stories she worked on have led to high-profile arrests, and underlines the role of journalists who continue to hold those in power to account.” Matthew Vella
15:53 European Commissioner Vera Jourova delivers the closing statement. “Daphne Caruana Galizia is still working for the truth.” Matthew Vella
15:51 Antonio TAJANI, EPP (Italy)

“The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was not only a wound in the heart of the people of Malta, but in Europe… this is about moving forward: if those in power are linked to such a murder, then there is something more than murder at stake, but a political plot to kill a journalist to discover something that they didn’t want to be discovered. That is why we the socialist group has to take a good look at itself – we can’t say that rule of law is more important in certain countries than others. We cannot bury our heads in the sand. We need to approve the anti-SLAAP directive and help Europol do more, so that in Europe another government cannot be complicit in the murder of a journalist.”
Matthew Vella
15:45 Josianne Cutajar, S&D (Malta)

“I want justice to be served. But justice needs to be allowed to be truly effective by taking its course in a serene way. Today’s debate is insensitive to the realities of Malta as it comes at an inopportune way. Our society is seeking a stronger sense of reconciliation, so what sense does this debate make at a time when Malta is going through acts of judicial process, numerous inquiries are underway to resolve major cases. Today’s debate is an insensitive gesture and cannot be seen as being conciliatory in its outcome. We have since last year committed our best efforts to governance in our country. Let’s leave the judicial authorities do their job.”
Matthew Vella
15:43 Antonio LÓPEZ-ISTÚRIZ WHITE, EPP (Spain)

“For how long is the S&D going to keep the Labour Party in its ranks? The former chief of staff is implicated, the assassins are asking for pardons in return for information on political officials… the socialist government in Malta has allowed that a journalist be killed.”
Matthew Vella
15:41 Alex Agius Saliba, S&D (Malta)

“The institutions in Malta are functioning, they are treating everyone equally. Our greatest priority is to see justice being served on the murder of the Caruana Galizia murder. This is why I cannot understand why the EP is trying to pass political judgement on a process that is still ongoing before our courts. Let us allow our courts to work freely and not make a mockery of it, that is loaded with partisanship. Justice will never be served by taking on the suggestions of the Opposition leader who says a pardon should be given to criminals in this crime.”
Matthew Vella
15:38 David Casa, EPP (Malta)

“Daphne Caruana Galizia. Thank you. Thank you for your determination, despite the attacks. Thank you for having given everything, even your life, so as to prevent Malta from being run by criminals. In the name of this Parliament, thank you.

“And to those that conspired to eliminate her. Those that paid for her demise. You should be scared, terrified. You have reason to be. Because there will be consequences for your actions.

“Because that family that you tore apart, you will have to look into their eyes before you are put behind bars. These are the people running our country. Working in concert with organised crime.

“A reality further confirmed with each passing day. Everyday a new scandal.

“Malta needs protection from its own government. Murderers and thieves can find others willing to defend them. But me, never. Not Roberta. I will conclude by addressing all Maltese and Gozitan citizens. Don’t give up. We won’t stop here. We will continue to fight for justice.

“There are courageous people who will not be intimidated. In the police, the judiciary, journalists and civil society organisations. And not least, this Parliament. This Parliament is on your side. And I will at the forefront to defend each and every one of you. That is my duty. Thank you.”

Matthew Vella
15:34 Lara WOLTERS, S&D (Netherlands) “Far too often, our debate sin this room do not originate from genuine concerns about our Union and rule of law, I feel strongly that the Caurana Galizia family are not helped by the games played buy this House…” Matthew Vella
15:32 Paulo RANGEL, EPP (Portugal)

“When impunity flourishes and endures, when the perpetrators of these crimes ask for official clemency, we are in the presence of a systematic breach of rule of law… I urge S&D to acknowledge this breach, and I appeal to all members of today’s European Council, to address the persistent of all European values by the Maltese government.”
Matthew Vella
15:29 Cyrus Engerer, S&D (Malta)

“This is not a partisan issue. Everyone in Malta wants to see justice served when it comes to the atrocious assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, everyone wants to know the whole truth, and that everyone is punished as they deserve. But today we have institutions that are functioning properly, institutions that we have seen very clearly, are on nobody’s side. Today we have a better Malta, but regretfully decades of abuse and a death to get here…”

“What I worry however is that political debates on ongoing proceedings can result in deterring the course of justice and help the accused to evade justice. In the name of truth and justice, please stop politicising the judicial process. Mr Weber left the room, but I am sorry to hear him say that the Labour Party knew in advance that Daphne would be killed. We are the Labour Party, the party of work and progress. This is a frenzy to score points before the general election; a lot of damage has been done to our country, by those who abused our institutions for decades.

Matthew Vella
15:24 European Parliament Vice President Roberta Metsola (EPP, Malta)

Our message today is clear:

We need those responsible for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, those who let it happen and those who tried to cover it up, to face justice.

We need an end to impunity and justice for the stories she was killed for exposing.

And we must prevent this happening ever again. That means strengthening our systems and giving Europol more authority on sharing evidence and investigations; It means having an Anti-SLAPP directive.

Do not let them dismiss this as partisan bickering – it is far more important. And do not judge my country by the actions of criminals posing as politicians. Malta is not them. Malta is better than them.

We may be an island 25 by 15 kilometres, but we do not see ourselves as small. We built back better after becoming the most bombed place on earth. We pushed for democracy, and joined the EU as equals. We are the country that put climate change on the world agenda. We are the island of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s courage... Oliver Friggieri’s pen... Joseph Calleja’s voice... Edward de Bono’s thinking.

When you look at Malta, understand that the criminals do not represent the true face of our country.

Look at the thousands of businesses who work hard, create jobs and thrive while playing by the rules.

Look at those who stand up as they face down an organised machine of abuse and intimidation.

Look at the families who look to Europe to protect the values our generation was promised.

This house should not give the criminals the comfort of silence or patronage. And let us do our bit to ensure this never happens again. Anywhere.

Matthew Vella
15:22 Balázs HIDVÉGHIRole : NI (Fidesz, HU)

“I call on Jourova to launch a rule of law procedure against Malta and refrain from engaging in a war of ideology against EU citizens who elected right-wing governments in free and fair elections.”
Matthew Vella
15:17 Sven Giegold, Greens EFA .

“We must urge the Maltese institutions to hold every person accountable… the role of Joseph Muscat must be fully investigated, and we must address the structural problems of corruption and money laundering in Malta. The big tidying-up in Malta has yet to happen… a culture of impunity for financial crime still exists. As the EP we cannot accept this, and call on the European Commission to hold Malta accountable for infringements to EU law. Europe must do everything to continue Daphne’s fight.”
Matthew Vella
15:15 Alfred Sant, S&D .

“The road has been longer than anticipated shocking developments have been made, some closer to the bone, but there will be no indulgence. The Abela administration in Malta has given more than enough assurances, and it will continue to deliver on its promises. It has been carrying out institutional reforms that responds to what this House and Council of Europe have called for. But there is a time for police to prosecute and a time for the court to judge – this debate has been called at the same time that crucial developments are taking place. Now that we are prosecuting, there should be no place for political intervention in the judicial process – this debate is quite clearly intruding in the judicial procedure that have made slow but spectacular process. It brings no value added to the rule of law and justice process. This House has kept back from discussing the Sarkozy Case and Barcela case in Spain – there are two weights and measures being applied today?”
Matthew Vella
15:11 Esteban GONZÁLEZ PONS, EPP (Christian Democrats).

“For years those in power in Malta have tried to turn Malta into a tax haven… Malta deserves better, the EU must do something. We demand the Maltese government to take full responsibility in this case; justice must be brought to bear on those who protected the killers. The government should be aware: if they don’t help to solve the murder of Caruana Galizia, this Chamber will have to act… and we tell our colleagues in the S&D to sever ties with the Malta Labour Party.”
Matthew Vella
15:07 Konstantinos ARVANITIS, The Left group in the European Parliament - GUE/NGL.

“Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Greece, Malta, Italy…. There is a serious issue about the press. Here we have the case of a woman and her right to free expression and the inalienable right to life. We will not stop until justice is made. We cannot simply note things that happen: we have the duty to act and take measures. All of us must exert pressure institutionally to investigate the whole issue. Investigative journalists are on the side of democracy.”
Matthew Vella
15:05 Assita KANKOM, European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

“We can never bring back Daphne Caruana Galizia… but we can bring justice. No corner of the EU must be free of scrutiny and rule of law… as long as we keep treating rule of law as a political football, as will never take this seriously.”
Matthew Vella
15:03 Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (France, EFA-Greens)

“So many people seem to have connections with those who planned this murder.. this assassination was pre-planned, and financed, and appears to have had the involvement of high government offices… this is Malta; if you have enough money, you could buy citizenship, no questions asked.”
Matthew Vella
14:57 Sophia In’t Veld, Renew

“Far too long has been taken and that judges might have to rely on the testimonies on criminals who in return will get pardons just for the judges to build their cases. That is not real justice. I welcome the process of reforms that has been initiated, but the political culture has not yet changed… “
Matthew Vella
14:54 Elena YONCHEVA for the S&D.

We recently adopted a resolution in Bulgaria… what happened after that? Nothing. The Bulgarian PM never commented on that resolution. For how long will rule of law be a question of arithmetic for them; and when will you start liking rule of law to the Budget, when will you start using that instrument ,for how long will you be shaking hands with Boris Borissov and Erdogan?
Matthew Vella
14:51 “The public institutions remain politically captured… this is a matter of major concern for us. New developments in court are deeply disturbing. A former minister has been named as having known and having tipped off the killers of the police raid… this means the ruling party knew of the plot to kill Daphne. I have no words to describe how shocking this is… how is this possible in today’s European Union? What is worse is that there have been no consequences: no arrests, no resignation, no political consequences, it is as if nothing has happened in Malta.” Matthew Vella
14:49 Manfred Weber, head of the EPP, takes the podium. Matthew Vella
14:48 The EC has called on Malta to continue on its reform efforts, ensure wide public consultation, and implementation of the adopted reforms. It also called for an inclusive approach when introducing reforms related to rule of law. Matthew Vella
14:46 Jourova said Malta has taken on a series of reforms to strengthen judicial independence and the separation of certain powers, as well as an independent prosecution service. “These are all steps in the right direction, but important concerns remain as regards the efficiency of the justice system, judicial proceedings taking very long… the anti corruption framework still lacks a track record of securing convictions in high level cases.” Matthew Vella
14:46 “The Caruana Galizia assassination was a stark reminder that the safety of journalists is not guaranteed even in a democratic member state of the European Union… the work of Caruana Galizia revealed patterns of money laundering; recent events that resulted in arrangements resulting from Daphne’s work are symbolic, showing the value of free journalism and that the prosecution and justice system in Malta can work.” Matthew Vella
14:42 First to speak is EU Commissioner Vera Jourova, who is responsible for EU values and rule of law. Matthew Vella
14:40 Here is a statement from the EPP group, the proponents of this debate:
The EPP Group is concerned that the Maltese Government will continue to obstruct the path to justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia. "The developments around the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta are very worrying, with recent revelations pointing to the implication of the highest levels of government,” said Manfred Weber MEP, EPP Group Chairman, and Jeroen Lenaers MEP, the EPP Group's Spokesman on Civil Liberties.

“There are many questions now with regard to the Maltese Government and its commitment to the rule of law in Malta. Maltese state authorities need to make sure the investigation can take place so that finally, all the light can be shed on Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder. We expect the European Commission to maintain pressure on the Maltese authorities to that end,” Weber and Lenaers continued.
Matthew Vella
14:32 Good afternoon. We will be posting some soundbites from the speeches in this debate from 2:35pm onwards. Matthew Vella

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

More in Ewropej