UPDATED: Murder in Malta: government gives journalists a doctored report

With Tim Rohn, in collaboration with Swiss digital magazine Republik as part of the series ‘Murder in Malta‘.

The Office of the Prime Minister gave foreign journalists a doctored report in which “someone went through the trouble of removing paragraphs on Pilatus Bank”, according to revelations in a series of international investigations on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In an interview with the OPM, Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield was meant to hand over to journalists a government report that tackled the main criticism being faced by the government. Instead, he gave them a report that was an assessment on the rule of law in Malta prepared for the family of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Bedingfield gave the journalists the wrong report – one that belonged to the Caruana Galizia family not the government – and he gave them a doctored version of it. The first fact noticed was that the report had the same page number on all pages, whereas the original report had sequential page numbers.

Then, a page by page comparison revealed that paragraphs on Pilatus Bank were missing, which referred to the role of the bank’s Head of Legal and Compliance Claude-Anne Sant Fournier.

Attempts to reach the Office of the Prime Minister for an explanation were ignored.

Bedingfield is regularly assigned to tackle questions by the foreign press investigating Caruana Galizia’s murder.

“Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is no longer meeting the press or taking any interviews in relation to Caruana Galizia’s case or related matters; he sends subordinates. MP Glenn Bedingfield, for example, a close associate and childhood friend. Bedingfield resembles Bud Spencer, small eyes and an impressive double chin,” according to journalists from Swiss digital magazine Republik.

As he did in other interviews, as recently as last week with The Guardian, Bedingfield spent most of the time tearing into a dead journalist. “She is portrayed as the ultimate journalist against corruption, but she has not always fought corruption. She only fought corruption when the Labour government was in power.”

Bedingfield did not mention Caruana Galizia’s revelations on top members of the Nationalist Party, such as former deputy leader Mario de Marco, and PN leader Adrian Delia in the months preceding her assassination. At a point, the Labour Party had tried to spin rumours that it was those revelations that killed her, but that did not stick and now it seems the tune has changed.

When discussing Caruana Galizia’s reports on Panama company Egrant belonging to the Prime Minister’s wife, Michelle Muscat, Bedingfield started to raise his voice, waving his arms wildly.

“These are only allegations! Allegations! I might as well argue that you wrote a specific article just because you were bribed. I make an accusation. But where is the proof?”

Bedingfield must have picked up on that point because it is an accusation that Labour Party members regularly throw at journalists (who do not toe the government line) with no proof. In contrast, the documentary evidence published by Caruana Galizia has been the subject of a criminal magisterial inquiry for almost a year.

Bedingfield, who sits at the Office of the Prime Minister paid by taxpayers to pen articles that target dissidents and spin the government line on any criticism, then went on to say he was a victim.

Bedingfield: “Growing up, I have lived in constant fear. I never carried a gun.”

Journalists: “Were you threatened?”

Bedingfield: “Yes. I was threatened with bombs. I received anonymous letters, anonymous phone calls.”

Journalists: “Sounds like a Mafia State….”

He raised his eyebrows, and then he rejected the comparison.

Bedingfield: “The Maltese are confident that the country is on the rise. What’s really important to them is improving their standard of living.”

Journalists: “If a society does not care about the murder of a journalist, then …”

Bedingfield: “That’s not what I said. Society is interested in it but people want to get on with their lives.”

That line, it seems, is the government’s answer to Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

On Monday, it’s six months since she was blown up in her car; six months since Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he would “leave no stone unturned”; six months since citizens have maintained their call for justice.

Note to our readers: The story originally referred to information in the deleted paragraphs that states that John Zammit is the father of a Pilatus Bank employee. That information is contained in the report, but he has denied being her father.

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