Prime Minister will not attend national demonstration organised in wake of journalist’s murder

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he recognised he would not be welcome at a national demonstration calling for justice in the wake of the murder by car bomb of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizi

Joseph Muscat said the country needs time to mourn and heal following Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder
Joseph Muscat said the country needs time to mourn and heal following Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he will not be attending today’s national demonstration calling for justice, organised in the wake of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, because he knows he would not be welcome there and might provoke some of the people attending.

In an interview on One Radio this morning, Muscat said that he understood that the organisers did not want the demonstration to turn into a political or partisan event.

“From what some of the organisers have said and from what the family has said, I understand I would not be welcome at this afternoon’s public demonstration and I will therefore not be attending as I do not want to provoke anyone,” he said.

“As I said, I recognise and accept this, but I invited Labour Party officials to attend and support the demonstration because I believe it is important for the country to come together at this time.”

The demonstration calling for justice is being organised by the Civil Society Network and will set off from City Gate in Valletta at 4pm.

Muscat said that he recognised the public needed time to mourn and reflect and he had therefore been careful that the government and the country’s authorities support this sentiment.

He said that even though he and his family had been frequent targets of Caruana Galizia, he realised that it was important for the country to allow itself time to heal following the barbaric murder of the journalist.

Muscat said he would have wished Daphne Caruana Galizia be alive once the magisterial inquiry he asked for, to investigate claims she made against his and his wife, is concluded and they are cleared of any wrongdoing.

“I would have liked to see what she would have done and said to those who gave her the false information in the first place,” he said.  “And if I or my wife were somehow found to be guilty of anything, she would have been able to witness me keep my word and resign immediately.”

The prime minister said the past week ahd been difficult for the whole country in general, and for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia in particular.

He reiterated his vow that the government would ensure that the persons responsible for Caruana Galizia’s murder are brought to justice.

“The position I and the government have taken this week should send a clear message to those responsible for the attack but also to those who are trying to make it seem as though such attacks are commonplace in Malta,” he said.

“Our decision to offer a €1 million for information leading to the arrests of the persons responsible should serve to convince everyone that the government will not stand for such atrocities and that we will not rest until justice is done.”

Muscat said that the government had felt that this murder was different than previous bomb attacks and that was why the monetary reward for information was being offered.

“A journalist was murdered, our country suffered a lot of harm, and we must ensure that we make it clear that our country will not allow such acts to go unpunished.”

Muscat would not comment on the where the investigation currently stood but said investigators were following multiple leads – including some not yet mentioned in the media.

“We have made it clear we will spare no resources in this investigation and we have even brought in outside assistance when the investigators felt this was necessary,” he said.

Former opposition leader “a little man”

Muscat said that former opposition leader Simon Busuttil's speech in Parliament this week showed exactly what a “little man” he was as he launched into another personal attack on the government and the prime minister, instead of rising to the occasion.

“But I know that Busuttil's stance was not widely welcomed, even in his own party, by many who would have preferred the PN take a different stance,” Muscat said.

“History books will judge everyone very clearly by our actions and I will continue to say the truth and try and unite the country in this moment of need,” he said.

He said that the new opposition leader Adrian Delia’s decision to immediately drop the libel cases he had filed against Caruana Galizia were merely an attempt to ensure the truth is never made public.

“That is why I challenged him to ask a magistrate directly to open an investigation into the claims Caruana Galizia made against him, so that people will know the truth,” Muscat said. “Of course, someone else can still ask for the same thing, but I urge Delia to do what I have done and call for an investigation himself.”