EU urges Malta to reform judiciary after botched murder probe
Brussels (AFP) –
The new European Commissioner for Justice told AFP Friday he wants to ensure Malta implements the EU's recommendations for judicial reforms following the murder of an investigative journalist, which has rocked the tiny island nation's government.
Three men are facing trial for the 2017 car bomb attack that killed mother of three Daphne Caruana Galizia but questions remain over who ordered the hit.
The criminal probe has claimed the scalps of two top government officials and prompted Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to announce his resignation for January.
"I hope that, very quickly, we will examine if the reforms are really being put into place," justice commissioner Didier Reynders said, adding, next week he would meet with Malta's justice minister.
In July, the European Union urged Malta to strengthen the independence of its judiciary, fight against aggressive tax planning and continue efforts to curb corruption and money laundering.
"We are trying to make sure that confidence (in Maltese justice) is clearly indicated by reforms," Reynders said, adding progress will be checked in February.
On Friday, Reynders met with a European Parliament delegation sent to Malta to review the situation on the ground.
"There is a very big concern about what has happened in Malta," Reynders said, calling for a "thorough, transparent and independent" investigation into the murder.
Galizia has been described as a "one-woman WikiLeaks" and was known for exposing cronyism and sleaze within the country's political and business elite.
A rising tide of mass protests have called for Muscat to step down immediately over what critics have called a botched investigation into the car bombing amid wide-ranging corruption allegations.
Muscat is accused by the journalist's family, the opposition and civic movements of obstructing justice to protect his chief of staff, Keith Schembri.
The late journalist had accused Schembri and tourism minister Konrad Mizzi of corruption.
Both men, who deny the allegations, stepped down last month as the murder probe deepened.
© 2019 AFP