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Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family reacts to arrests

“When the handling of an investigation is not sound, it is difficult to have faith in its outcome”

Antonio di Pietro at Daphne Caruana Galizia memorial in Valletta on 3 December. Photo Ian Noel Pace
Antonio di Pietro at Daphne Caruana Galizia memorial in Valletta on 3 December. Photo Ian Noel Pace

The full statement issued by the family of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia following the arrest of 10 men announced during a press conference by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday:

“The manner in which [yesterday’s] arrests were communicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family indicates serious institutional deficiencies which are cause for general public concern.

The information about the arrests was communicated by the Prime Minister, and not by the Malta Police, who appear to prioritise informing the Prime Minister of developments to the exclusion of the surviving members of the assassination victim’s family.

In addition, the Prime Minister appears to view the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination as a marketing exercise for his government and not as a contract killing, which has left surviving family members wondering what happened and how justice can truly be served.

The family heard about [yesterday’s] arrests at the same time as media reported on the Prime Minister’s press conference [yesterday] morning. This means that the Malta Police informed the Prime Minister of the arrests but did not inform Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family about a critical development in the investigation.

It also means that the media learned of the arrests before the family did. The Prime Minister said that the family ‘has faith’ in the inquiring magistrate, on whom he counts to keep family members informed. The family remind the Prime Minister that it is not the magistrate’s role to act as a liaison officer for the Police Force, over which he has no oversight.

The Police are running a separate investigation to the magisterial inquiry and have a separate duty to keep family members informed.

A further two arrests were made this morning and the family only heard of them because the Prime Minister Tweeted about them. Again, the Prime Minister was informed before the family was informed, and the Prime Minister’s prioritising the media over the assassination victim’s family indicates that his public image is his primary concern.

It is beneath the dignity of public office that critical information about an assassination investigation by the police should be released by the Prime Minister, rather than by the police, and on social media, rather than in a formal setting.

The Prime Minister misled the press this morning with regard to who signed the arrest warrants and failed to resist making a partisan reference even in a moment of such profound tension for the country and for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family.

The Prime Minister said that the arrest warrants were signed by the inquiring magistrate. Arrest warrants are routinely signed by the duty magistrate. The inquiring magistrate, Anthony Vella, is not the duty magistrate today.

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family could have been informed of today’s arrests by a family liaison officer of the Malta Police force — if one had been appointed. It is what might be expected in any homicide case, particularly one which is high profile and which has wide-reaching implications.

The family had already written to the Police Commissioner about the lack of formal communication and about the constant stream of leaks which prejudice the integrity of the investigation. The Police Commissioner has not responded in writing to any of the family’s letters to him.

Within an hour of the arrests, the mugshots, names, and addresses of seven of the suspects were leaked by the Malta Police. If police officers who have access to the case files are leaking this information so wantonly, it is important to ask whether they are not also leaking information to other suspects, some of whom could be in or close to government.

The family is concerned that a number of people who could be implicated continue to receive political cover for crimes they are widely reported to have committed. None of the developments in the investigation or its handling by the Malta Police have served to reassure the family that real justice is within reach.

The blurring of boundaries with the executive – and this in a case which has political implications – is disturbing. When the handling of an investigation is not sound, it is difficult to have faith in its outcome.

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family will continue to fight for an independent and impartial investigation that is theirs by right and will fight to hold to account any institutions or officials who fail to uphold their duties, prejudicing the investigation either by incompetence or misfeasance.”

Antonio di Pietro

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