Recent developments in Maltese courts show that the ruling party in Malta knew of the plot to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia, according to President of the European People’s Party Manfred Weber who spoke during a debate at the European Parliament on Thursday, adding that it was clear the journalist was killed for what she wrote.
Weber said it was completely unacceptable that there was still no political accountability for the assassination despite recent revelations. “In Maltese courts, we have the killers of the journalists naming a former Minister as having known of the plot to have Caruana Galizia murdered. Two other killers also mentioned the involvement of ministers. This means that the ruling Party knew of the plot to kill Caruana Galizia.”
He said public institutions remain politically captured. “When I hear these things, I ask myself: How is this possible in the EU? And how is it possible that there has been no political consequence for it? Clean up your house.”
The debate on the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the rule of law in Malta was called by the European People’s Party (EPP) following the revelations made in Maltese courts and the ongoing developments surrounding the murder of the journalist.
Labour Party MEPs, members of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the debate from happening.
Vice President of the European Commission Vera Jourova said Caruana Galizia’s murder was a stark reminder of the important role of journalists. She said the Commission has repeatedly stressed that those who were involved in this brutal murder must be brought to justice ‘without political interference’.
“Caruana Galizia’s work has uncovered a pattern of corruption in Malta,” she said, adding that there were steps taken in the right direction but the efficiency of the justice system was still a concern. She said the anti-corruption framework lacks a track record of securing corruption-related cases.
“The assassination triggered concerns of threats against investigative journalists. We need to act. That is why the Commission is working on a recommendation on the safety of journalists,” she added.
“Whenever I read her work and find out she was right, I realise she is still working for us and for the truth”, Jourova concluded.
Labour Party MEP Alfred Sant criticised the timing of the event saying that it added nothing to justice and rule of law in Malta. He said the debate was taking place as more revelations are emerging in Maltese courts on the murder. “This debate is intruding on the judicial process. There will be full justice for this murder, without fear or favour,” he added.
Sant said Prime Minister Robert Abela’s administration is delivering on promises and institutional reforms. “The promise to bring those involved to justice is still upheld. It is taking more time than expected, but it is happening,” he said.
Nationalist MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, said the debate was called because the country must bring those responsible for this murder to justice. “We need those responsible, those who let it happen and those who tried to cover it up, brought to justice. We need to end impunity and prevent this from happening ever again,” she insisted.
She called on more authority to allow sharing of investigations across the EU and warned MEPs not to be distracted by ‘partisan bickering’. “Do not judge my country by actions of criminals posing as politicians,” she said.
Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer followed, insisting that “today we have a better Malta even if it took years of abuse and murder”. He said the issue was being politicised and backed the government’s line that “the institutions are working” – a line also repeated by MEP Alex Agius Saliba.
Nationalist MEP David Casa praised Caruana Galizia for her courage and determination despite the intimidation and threats. “Those who paid to have her eliminated should be scared because they will pay for what they did. These are the same people running our country. A truth that is confirmed every single day.” Malta has to be protected from its own rulers, he added.
Another Labour MEP, Josianne Cutajar, said the debate was being held at an inopportune moment arguing that it risked opening wounds in a society that is going through a ‘process of reconciliation’. “What sense is there in triggering this debate when investigations and court proceedings are ongoing?”
Former EPP President Antonio Tajani said this debate was about moving forward rather than debating the past. “There is a socialist government in power linked to this murder, then it means there is a political plot, not only murder. That is why we need the socialists to have a good hard look at their conscience,” he said.
He reiterated his call for an anti-SLAPP directive and efforts to ensure that EU countries will never again be involved in the murder of a journalist.
MEPs will vote on a resolution next month.