The call for justice and truth for the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was rekindled in a vigil marking the anniversary of her death as activists and protesters reiterated their commitment to continue the fight until the very end.
Carefully wearing masks and keeping their distance from each other, the protesters gathered in front of the Great Siege memorial in Valletta in a vigil commemorating the 32-month anniversary since Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in Bidnija on 16 October 2017. The vigils had been put on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Just before it started, activists hung a large banner with a photo of former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar on the gates of the law courts, with the words “no change, no justice, resign”.
Holding up Maltese flags together with placards saying “mafia” and “thank you police for your honesty”, the crowd listened to activist Andre Delicata who pointed out that a few of the highest-ranking officials in the police corp chose to be loyal to those in Castille instead of serving the people.
”Those few corrupt police officials who are leading the police force didn’t arraign anyone or investigate them. Instead, they gave them all the chance to hide the evidence and escape justice,” he said.
Cutajar is now subject to a formal inquiry after a magistrate ordered a police investigation into claims made by Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the murder of Caruana Galizia, that Cutajar had given him confidential information about an ongoing investigation into money laundering.
Following this, the Justice Ministry issued a statement that his consultancy contract, which was signed on the same day he resigned from the role of police commissioner, was no longer suspended but cancelled.
Alessandra Dee Crespo called out Prime Minister Robert Abela for giving the former police commissioner a government contract when he knew what was going on. “You know what was going on and yet you still approved his consultancy contract – why did you do that?”
Earlier on Tuesday, various international NGOs and her family marked the anniversary of her murder through tributes on social media.
IFEX, an umbrella organisation of international press freedom NGOs, said in a tweet that ‘The world is watching and waiting for justice”.
"There are crooks everywhere you look now" – the words of #DaphneCaruanaGalizia grow more potent with every passing day.
— IFEX (@IFEX) June 16, 2020
Reporters Without Borders reiterated this call and pointed out that political resignations were not enough. “Everyone involved must be brought to full justice – including all masterminds. We are waiting,” it said in a tweet.
Even UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions Agnes Callamard called for the search for the truth to never stop.
The nest of vipers keep being exposed, confronted and ultimately eradicated. This is why all killings of journalists must be investigated. And why we need a relentless search for truth. #DaphneCaruanaGalizia #jamalkhashoggi https://t.co/xzoTo4dc8Q
— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) June 16, 2020
Vicki Ann Cremona, president of civil society group Repubblika pointed out that they were proven right in asking for Cutajar’s resignation from the very start. “We have been saying for two years that he had to go”.
Earlier in the day, Abela announced that he asked former minister Chris Cardona to step down from his role as deputy leader of the Labour Party. Cardona was also mentioned by Theuma who said under oath that the former minister had paid to have her killed. Cardona has denied these allegations.
Meanwhile, Paula Fleri Soler, from Occupy Justice queried why the former chief of staff Keith Schembri, who has been constantly mentioned by Theuma in his testimonies, was not questioned by the police yet.
“While Malta was effective in fighting an unknown virus like COVID19, the country has failed miserably at tackling rampant corruption that has infected our institutions – absolutely nothing has been done – quite the opposite, in fact, all under the guise of another Muscatian buzzword – “continuity”,” it said.
The new prime minister who had taken over from Joseph Muscat with the promise of continuity did not have the inclination or the will to stop the spread of corruption.
“It is now more than evident that protestors were right in calling for the removal of the likes of Silvio Valletta and Lawrence Cutajar…. What has come to light is sickening and shows that these two individuals were actively contaminating any form of progress in the investigations,” the group said.
Now that the country is resuming “normality”, it was time to reassert the commitment towards safeguarding Malta’s democracy.
“Our “normality” will resume, as will our protests. Since the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia we have been unyielding and consistent in our call for truth and justice – we shall not stop; we shall not give up until justice is served,” they said.