[WATCH] Palermo’s anti-mafia mayor: ‘To Daphne’s killers… you made a very big mistake’

Hundreds gather in Valletta to commemorate Daphne Caruana Galizia, two years after she was assassinated in Bidnija

Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando (second left) accompanying Daphne Caruana Galizia's sons and widower in Valletta
Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando (second left) accompanying Daphne Caruana Galizia's sons and widower in Valletta
Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando delivers powerful speech at Caruana Galizia commemoration

Palermo’s anti-mafia mayor Leoluca Orlando has urged Maltese society to ditch omertà and “speak, see, hear, and if necessary cry”.

He was delivering a short but powerful message to the large gathering in Valletta on Wednesday to commemorate the second year since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Orlando called for “truth and justice” to prevail with no “buts in between”, insisting the biggest change had to happen in people’s minds.

Leoluca Orlando delivered a short but powerful speech, grounded in his experience of fighting the Sicilian mafia
Leoluca Orlando delivered a short but powerful speech, grounded in his experience of fighting the Sicilian mafia

“Daphne, you won. You won because we are here tonight. You are not alone… to her killers, I say you made a very big mistake… you will be caught, you will be caught,” he shouted to loud applause.

Orlando, a long-standing anti-mafia lawmaker, was one of several speakers who addressed people, responding to a call by civil society groups to remember the slain journalist.

Hundreds walked down Republic Street behind a banner with the words Truth And Justice, carried by Caruana Galizia’s sons, widower, and family. The journalist’s parents, Rose and Michael, were also present.

Daphne Caruana Galizia's parents, Rose and Michael Vella, were present for their daughter's commemoration
Daphne Caruana Galizia's parents, Rose and Michael Vella, were present for their daughter's commemoration

People carried posters calling for justice, and carrying messages such as You Killed A Journalist To Escape Prison, and It Was Not A Femicide. The overriding message was a call for the masterminds behind Caruana Galizia to be brought to justice.

Flowers and candles were then placed at the foot of the Great Siege monument in front of the law courts, which has been turned into a makeshift memorial for the slain journalist. A wreath placed earlier in the day by Opposition leader Adrian Delia was left abandoned on the backside of the monument.

The event in Valletta was held concurrently with other commemorations held in Luxembourg, Brussels, Berlin and other European capitals.

Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017 by a car bomb outside her house in Bidnija.

People called for truth and justice
People called for truth and justice

Three men are to stand trial accused of placing and detonating the bomb but the mastermind is believed to be still at large.

In another powerful message, Italian priest Don Ciotti, an anti-mafia campaigner, called on people to raise their voices when many others choose “the prudence of silence”.

“Daphne is not dead. She did not die in vain. A life spent in search of truth and justice, is not a life lived in vain… but all of us have to transform her memory into activism,” Ciotti said.

Delivering a message against corruption and organised crime, Ciotti called on people to become change.

“It is not enough to ask for change. We have to become change and confront the future,” he insisted.

Ciotti said defeating corruption and the mafia was difficult. “Corruption and the mafia are invisible enemies. They insert themselves among us. They are parasitic, cause destruction from inside, and can kill. But they are not impossible to defeat,” he said, urging people to keep hope alive and demand justice be done.

He reserved strong words for the description of Caruana Galizia’s murder as a femicide, with clear reference to the words of Maltese commissioner-designate Helena Dalli during her grilling at the European Parliament.

Flowers, candles and messages demanding justice were placed at the foot of the Great Siege monument
Flowers, candles and messages demanding justice were placed at the foot of the Great Siege monument

“It was revolting to hear her murder being described as femicide… Daphne is a martyr for truth and justice,” Ciotti said to applause.

Other speakers were critical of the State’s failure to protect the journalist in the face of the threats and hate that were directed towards her, accusing it of allowing a culture of impunity to grow.

Lawyer Martina Farrugia, an activist, said it was not right to justify today’s wrongdoing by quoting the wrongdoing of the past.

“I will say this and if necessary keep repeating it – it is obscene that 40 years have passed and we do not know who killed Karin Grech,” Farrugia said, recalling the 15-year-old girl killed by a letter bomb sent to her father.

“It is obscene that other car bombs remain unresolved but this should not be used as an excuse not to search for the truth on Daphne’s killers and call for justice to be done,” Farrugia said.

“I will not leave my country. This is my home. We have a right and duty to speak up, criticise the government but also the Opposition,” she said to applause, calling for respect towards the journalist’s family.

Two years have passed since Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered and the people behind her killing remain unknown
Two years have passed since Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered and the people behind her killing remain unknown

The president of NGO Repubblika, Vicki Ann Cremona reserved harsh words for the authorities, demanding that the journalist’s murderers be found and brought to justice.

“We need politicians who are not corrupt. We need upright police officers, who do not wait for direction from their superiors. We need law courts where judges and magistrates do their job and not the bidding of those who want to corrupt them,” she said.

Cremona called out government ministers and people close to them over the 31 pending libel suits against Caruana Galizia’s heirs. “It is shameful,” she shouted to applause.

Cremona reflected the anger and frustration of many in the crowd when she said: “We will continue coming here until justice is done. We are fed up of being taken for a ride (titnejku bina). We are fed up of being treated like imbeciles.”