Agnès Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has called for an “independent and impartial” investigation into the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Speaking to this website, Callamard called for a full inquiry into the case, adding that Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and others should be questioned over the journalist’s murder.
Callamard, who was in Brussels for meetings with MEPs and EU officials, welcomed the “latest developments” in Malta, which include Muscat announcing he will step down as Prime Minister, but not until January.
Malta has also seen thousands of people pour onto the streets in recent days to protest at alleged high-level corruption in the country.
Callamard said, “Recent developments in Malta show the power of what civil society can achieve. In the Galizia case it appears that the masterminds have been identified and, if so, this is testament to the public’s determination to get to the truth.”
“However, there now needs to be an independent and impartial investigation into the murder in which all parties, including the Prime Minister, should be questioned. It is important to establish what, if any, chain of command existed here.”
Galizia relentlessly investigated corruption, which she alleged ran deep into her country's politics, before she was killed by a car bomb close to her home in 2017.
“In the Galizia case it appears that the masterminds have been identified and, if so, this is testament to the public’s determination to get to the truth” Agnès Callamard
Four people have been charged over her murder while an alleged middleman was granted immunity in exchange for evidence. She was described when she died aged 53 as one of Malta's most important, visible and fearless journalists.
Before her death, she had been reporting on allegations relating to the Panama Papers - a mass of documents leaked in 2016 from a Panamanian law firm.
The documents revealed that two of Muscat's close associates were involved in secret offshore business.
Callamard’s demand comes as a European Parliament delegation, comprising seven MEPs and led by Dutch Liberal member Sophie in’t Veld, travelled to Malta and had meetings with several high-ranking Maltese officials including the outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Speaking at the end of the two-day fact-finding trip, in ‘t Veld said, “It is difficult to see how the credibility of Muscat’s office can be upheld. This is not just between the Prime Minister and the Maltese people; this is also between Malta and the European Union.”
“Cooperation within the EU is based on trust and I think it is very evident to everybody that that trust has been very seriously damaged.”
Her remarks were partly echoed by another delegation member, Roberta Metsola, the Maltese EPP spokeswoman on justice and home affairs, who said, “For too long, the truth about her [Galizia’s] murder has been swept under the carpet while the rule of law is being undermined. What is going on in Malta is unacceptable in a Member State.”
“It is difficult to see how the credibility of Muscat’s office can be upheld. This is not just between the Prime Minister and the Maltese people; this is also between Malta and the European Union” Sophie in’t Veld MEP
“It simply cannot continue. We have met with civil society, law enforcement, the Prime Minister, Galizia's family and the nation's institutions and the media.”
The group of MEPs also met Owen Bonnici, Malta’s Justice Minister, the country’s President George Vella, Attorney General Peter Grech and Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.
Metsola added, “After every meeting it was clearer than ever that as long as Joseph Muscat remains clinging on to power, EU values will remain under threat and justice will remain undone. Muscat must go now. We have pushed for justice in the assassination of Galizia for years and will continue to do so.”
Further comment came from German Greens MEP Sven Giegold who said, “We have seen progress in Malta in the investigation of the Galizia murder but no improvement when it comes to corruption and financial crime.”
“There is still a culture of impunity for corruption and money laundering. There are hardly any police investigations or even convictions - even if there are convincing indications in the public domain.”
“For too long, the truth about her [Galizia’s] murder has been swept under the carpet while the rule of law is being undermined. What is going on in Malta is unacceptable in a Member State” Roberta Metsola MEP
He added, “A gateway to corruption is the sale of EU passports. The worrying state of the rule of law in Malta requires action by the Commission. Corruption and financial crime are a first test case for Ursula von der Leyen and her Commission’s stance on the rule of law.”
“She has put this issue at the centre of her agenda and now she has to deliver. The announcements at her first press conference in the new office were vague and therefore disappointing.”
“There have to be direct consequences for Malta: Maltese citizens rightly demand the immediate resignation of Muscat. He should resign sooner rather than later. I do not agree with him staying in office for weeks. Given the many indications of corruption in his surroundings, he should not have the opportunity to leave his office in order.”