Killing a journalist a second time

It’s 10 months down the line, and the only difference seen since last month’s commemoration of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is a new wave of hate against her, fuelled by a government-led campaign.

While the government is yet to answer the family’s call for a public inquiry into her assassination and whether the State did all it could to prevent it, its machine has been actively building hate for the dead journalist.

It says a lot about the government’s priorities, and it says a lot about what we can expect from the investigation into her assassination when the only “mastermind” its people are talking about is already dead.

In the weeks following the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry, the government has used taxpayers’ money to whitewash its reputation – falsely claiming it has shot down all allegations of corruption involving its top members.

It makes these false claims from a position of strength – since it did not only dictate the narrow scope of the inquiry but now it is only those accused who have access to the full evidence collected by Magistrate Bugeja.

There is a fabricated dispute between the Prime Minister and the Attorney General on what should be published, allowing the government to state it wants transparency when scrutiny of its actions tells another story.

Yet if it was such a clean bill of health given by the magistrate, why such an effort to discredit a dead journalist? Perhaps it’s because Egrant was part of a bigger picture she revealed that the government has been trying, and failing, to say was false for the last two years.

Read more: This is not about bullying

The Panama Papers’ leak has led to resignations in countries as far as Pakistan, but the government in Malta has used every available opportunity to stall investigations involving his closest aide – his chosen chief of staff.

The AG has backed the calls all the way, even denying a copy of the findings to the Opposition Leader and contesting his call for the case to be heard as a matter of urgency. On Thursday, the court upheld Nationalist Party Leader Adrian Delia’s request to discuss with urgency a constitutional application for a copy of the report.

While every tool in a democracy available to citizens seeking truth continues to be stalled, Economy Minister Chris Cardona, who had frozen the journalist’s assets at the time of her death in an attempt to cripple her financially, went as far as saying she was involved in a ‘coup d’etat’ – either he has no clue of the meaning of the term or he is intentionally subverting it.

Her last words, “the situation is desperate” continue to be mocked by staff at the Prime Minister’s office. Glenn Bedingfield attempted to link it to “forgeries and lies” the government refers to in the Egrant findings. Despite forgeries being a habit at Mossack Fonseca – the agency government members chose to hide their offshore dealings – the line is being associated with Caruana Galizia in a further attempt to control the agenda.

Discredit all her work in one stroke and everyone can live on happily ever after.

Then, there are those who know no better. They say they wish she were alive just so that she could be ‘held to account’. All this while nobody outside of the Prime Minister’s Office (apart from the Attorney General) knows what Caruana Galizia told the magistrate in her testimony. Now wouldn’t this be in everyone’s interest to know, even those who want to break her a second time?

Instead, her work continues to be thrashed and conspiracy theories continue to be generated by those paid by taxpayers to serve the people not their chosen master. They spin narratives using words like “certified” and “official” when the facts are nothing of the sort. A magistrate’s inquiry of this type does not certify anything.

Ten months since her assassination, the Party in government that spent decades setting her up as a target of hate, and whose supporters celebrated her death in the Party’s once-secret and closed online groups, seems to be spending more time in fuelling this hatred than fulfilling its obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The State clearly failed to protect one of its own. And when citizens see the government is more preoccupied with bashing the journalist than “leaving no stone unturned,” it should come as no surprise that citizens are increasingly beginning to ask if the State might have a hand in it.

In addition to the government’s attack on the dead journalist, her family continue to face threats and insults from government supporters which is again fed by the narrative endorsed by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The family has been accused of stalling investigations by not handing over her laptop to the police – the same police who have not questioned members of government whose corruption she exposed, and the same police who have done their best to stall any investigation on corruption allegations involving the top ranks of government.

Since the laptop has been handed to police in another country, it is important to question whether the Malta police have taken any interest in collaborating to investigate the data now available? You know the answer.

If OPM staff think it’s fine to insult Caruana Galizia’s sons on social media, then the message sent is it’s fine to do the same behind fake names.

It is not just that though. The Prime Minister and other government MPs have failed to condemn online mobbing. Worse, when it was pointed out that many of these attacks were seeded in long-out-of-hand Labour hate groups manned by government officials, the message that came across was one of support for those groups.

Defence of the government’s actions and justification for what it is not doing has taken on ridiculous proportions. An example is calls on the family to solve other political murders that happened under the previous Labour administration in the 70s and 80s if their demand for justice is to be considered credible. The implication is that the family’s campaign is a tactic to undermine the government, rather than a genuine call for justice for a family member killed.

A post addressed to Corinne Vella, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister.

No-one has been brought to justice for ordering Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Three suspects were arrested, none of whom she ever wrote about and none of whom have spoken about their motive. The mastermind is still at large. The government has the power to establish a public inquiry which will hear evidence in public rather than in secret, but it has so far refused to do so.

It is a systemic failure of the State that a journalist should need protection at all. Caruana Galizia’s sister, Corinne Vella, said, “to accept as normal that journalists should need protection is to admit that the State is failing in at least some of its functions”

“The call for a public inquiry is rooted in human rights law. An inquiry which establishes where those systemic failures are and what should be done to address them, is in everyone’s interest”, Vella said.


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