Malta agrees to public inquiry into journalist's murder

Valletta (AFP) –


The Maltese government on Friday ordered an independent inquiry into the 2017 murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, a day after the expiry of a Council of Europe deadline.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat appointed a retired judge to head the inquiry into the fatal car bombing that killed journalist and blogger Caruana Galizia, whose family and supporters have repeatedly called for an independent probe.

Muscat's office said it had agreed to the inquiry after it was assured it would not undermine criminal investigations into the killing.

Three men are facing trial, but the masterminds have not been identified.

The Maltese government said it had held talks with the Council of Europe, which in June gave Valletta a three-month deadline to set up such an inquiry, on how to avoid it endangering criminal proceedings.

The Council's rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic this month sent a letter to Muscat asking that libel cases still being pursued in Maltese courts against Caruana Galizia's family be dropped.

After her death, some 30 such cases were transferred to her family under a Maltese civil law which allows plaintiffs to pursue actions against the heirs of a deceased accused.

Caruana Galizia, described by supporters as a "one-woman WikiLeaks," had highlighted corruption in Malta, including among politicians.

Muscat and his family were among those accused by her investigations and her blog, which often launched highly personal attacks.

After Caruana Galizia's death, her sons called on Muscat to resign, accusing him of failing to uphold fundamental freedoms on the island, an EU member since 2004, and creating a culture of political impunity.

The inquiry, which must be concluded within nine months, will be headed by retired judge Michael Mallia, who will work alongside legal expert Ian Refalo and former police forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici.