Daphne Caruana Galizia
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Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia (née Vella; 26 August 1964 – 16 October 2017) was a Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist, who reported on political events in Malta. In particular, she focused on investigative reporting into government corruption, nepotism, patronage, allegations of money laundering, links between Malta's online gambling industry and organised crime, Malta's citizenship-by-investment scheme, and payments from the government of Azerbaijan. Caruana Galizia's national and international reputation was built on her regular reporting of misconduct by Maltese politicians and politically exposed persons. For decades, she refused to give up on her reporting despite intimidation and threats, libels and other lawsuits. Caruana Galizia was arrested by the Malta Police Force on two occasions.
Daphne Caruana Galizia
Daphne Anne Vella
26 August 1964
|Died||16 October 2017 (aged 53)|
|Cause of death||Car bomb|
|Alma mater||University of Malta|
Peter Caruana Galizia (m. 1985)
Readers' main access to her investigations was through her personal blog Running Commentary, which she set up in 2008. She was a regular columnist with The Sunday Times of Malta and later The Malta Independent. Her blog consisted of investigative reporting and commentary, some of which was regarded as personal attacks on individuals, leading to a series of legal battles. In 2016 and 2017, she revealed controversial and sensitive information along with allegations relating to a number of Maltese politicians and the Panama Papers scandal.
On 16 October 2017, Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb attack close to her home, attracting widespread local and international reactions. In December 2017, three men were arrested in connection with her murder. In April 2018, a consortium of 45 international journalists published The Daphne Project, a collaboration to complete her investigative work.
The GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information was established in 2018 in honour of Galizia.
Early life and educationEdit
Daphne Anne Vella was born on 26 August 1964 in Sliema. She was the eldest of four sisters born to the businessman Michael Alfred Vella and his wife Rose Marie Vella (née Mamo). She was educated at St Dorothy's Convent (Mdina) and St Aloysius' College, Birkirkara. She attended the University of Malta as a mature student and took a BA (Hons) in Archaeology with a minor in Anthropology in 1997, featuring on the Dean's List in 1996.
Caruana Galizia was politicised by her late teens, and was first arrested when she was 18 years old. She was held in detention for 48 hours following her participation in a pro-democracy protest. The policeman who arrested her, Angelo Farrugia, went on to become the speaker of the Maltese parliament.
In 1985 she married the lawyer Peter Caruana Galizia, a grandson of John Caruana and a great-grandson of E.L. Galizia and A.A. Caruana, and they had three sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul. Matthew was a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The family left Sliema in 1990, moving to Bidnija, a hamlet in the limits of Mosta.
After deciding to become a journalist, she landed a job with The Sunday Times of Malta as a news reporter in 1987, and she was a regular columnist from 1990 to 1992 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was an associate editor of The Malta Independent in 1992, and remained a columnist with that newspaper and The Malta Independent on Sunday until her death. She also worked in media and public relations consultancy. Caruana Galizia was also the founding editor of Taste and Flair, monthly lifestyle magazines which were distributed along with The Malta Independent on Sunday. They were merged into a single magazine entitled Taste&Flair in July 2014, and Caruana Galizia remained editor until her death. Taste&Flair is now published by The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation.
In March 2008 she set up a blog entitled Running Commentary, which included investigative reporting and commentary on current affairs and public figures. The blog was one of the most popular websites in Malta, regularly attracting over 400,000 views - more than the combined circulation of the country's newspapers.
Caruana Galizia was harassed relentlessly and intimidated for her work and opinions. The front door of her house was set on fire in 1996. The family dog had its throat slit and was laid across her doorstep. Years later, the neighbour's car was burned, probably in a misdirected attack. There was a murder attempt in 2006, when the house was set on fire while the family was asleep inside. After Caruana Galizia started her blog, her terrier Zulu was poisoned and her collie Rufus was put down after being found shot.
According to Matthew Caruana Galizia, threats were almost a daily occurrence. These took the form of phone calls, letters, notes pinned to the front door, text messages, emails, and comments on her blog.
Caruana Galizia was arrested on 8 March 2013 for breaking the political silence on the day before the 2013 general election, after she posted videos mocking Joseph Muscat. She was questioned by the police before being released after a few hours. In November 2010, after commenting about the conservation of the former home of Queen Elizabeth II, Galizia was described by The Daily Telegraph as the leading commentator in Malta. Other major stories and controversies centered around Panama Papers revelations and allegations that Chris Cardona had visited a brothel during an official government visit in Germany in January 2017.
In 2016, Caruana Galizia questioned how British millionaire Paul Golding got rich and acquired Palazzo Nasciaro in Naxxar. From mid-2017 Caruana Galizia became a harsh critic of the new Nationalist opposition leader Adrian Delia, over claims that he had laundered money for a company involved in a prostitution ring in Soho.
On 22 February, she hinted on Running Commentary that Maltese government minister Konrad Mizzi had connections with Panama and New Zealand. This compelled the minister to reveal the existence of a New Zealand-registered trust, two days later, which he claimed was set up to manage his family's assets. On 25 February, Caruana Galizia revealed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, owned a similar trust in New Zealand which in turn held a Panama company.
The April 2016 leak confirmed that Mizzi owned the Panama company Hearnville Inc, and that Mizzi and Schembri had also opened another company, Tillgate Inc. The companies were also owned by the Orion Trust New Zealand Limited, which are the same trustees of Mizzi and Schembri's New Zealand trusts, Rotorua and Haast respectively.
In 2017, she alleged that Egrant, another Panama company, was owned by Michelle Muscat, wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. These allegations are what ostensibly compelled Muscat to call the June 2017 general elections, which saw Muscat's Labour Party return to power, though Caruana Galizia believed he had other motives.
Her last blog post before leaving in her car read, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."
Libel and criminal defamation casesEdit
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A legal fund was crowdfunded to cover four precautionary warrants - freezing her assets to the tune of €50,000 - for the maximum libel damages possible at law. These were instituted by the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Minister for the Economy, Chris Cardona, and his EU presidency policy officer, Joseph Gerada.
In 2010, she criticised Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera on her blog, who, together with her live-in partner, Labour government consultant Robert Musumeci, then filed a criminal complaint with the police, forcing them to prosecute Caruana Galizia in the criminal courts. The case was withdrawn in November 2011.
In May 2017 Pilatus Bank's owner and chairman, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, sued Daphne Caruana Galizia in an Arizona court in his own name and in the name of Pilatus Bank.
Pilatus Bank had written to every single non-government aligned media outlet in Malta throughout the course of 2017 threatening to sue them, but had only gone through with the threat in Daphne Caruana Galizia's case as the other media outlets conceded to changes to their online content. One media outlet reported that threatening letters had been sent just 12 hours before Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed.
The explosion left the vehicle scattered in several pieces across nearby fields. She was in the driver's seat at the time. Her remains were found by her son Matthew, 80 meters away from the blast site, after he heard a blast from their family home. He wrote on Facebook: “I looked down and there were my mother’s body parts all around me”. Her murder marks the sixth car-bombing in Malta since the beginning of 2016, the first one where the victim was not a known criminal and the fourth fatality.
Barring during elections, her home had not been under police guard since 2010. According to police sources, her protection was further relaxed after the Labour party was returned to power in 2013. The power to set up a public inquiry into whether Daphne Caruana Galizia's life could have been saved rests with the Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat. He did not immediately set up a public inquiry. A formal request by Caruana Galizia's heirs to set up a public inquiry was presented by letter to Malta's prime minister in August 2018, based on the legal opinion of Doughty Street Chambers and Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.
Her family criticised the Maltese authorities for doing nothing against a growing "culture of impunity" in Malta, saying that Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Chris Cardona, Konrad Mizzi, Attorney General Peter Grech and a long list of police commissioners who took no action, were complicit in her murder. Her family refused a request to publicly endorse a government reward of one million euros for information, despite pressure from the Prime Minister and President, and insisted that the Prime Minister ought to resign.
One of Caruana Galizia's sisters insisted that "the President and the Prime Minister are “downplaying” the assassination and “working to transform her into a martyr for their cause,” indicating that calls for national unity were a sham, and that to "call for unity is to abuse her legacy. There should never be unity with the criminal and the corrupt."
The car bomb attack was condemned by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who stated that he "will not rest before justice is done" despite her criticism of him. President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and a number of politicians also expressed their condolences or condemned the murder. Opposition leader Adrian Delia called her death "the collapse of democracy and freedom of expression" and stated that "[the country's] institutions have let us down". Fellow blogger Manuel Delia, a former PN official, called her "the only ethical voice left. She was the only one talking about right and wrong." The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Commission condemned the attack in the strongest terms possible.
The President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani called the murder a "tragic example of a journalist who sacrificed her life to seek out the truth." Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, stated that the organization is "shocked" by Caruana Galizia's murder and "is deeply concerned about freedom of the press in Malta."
A plenary session of the European Parliament was held on 24 October, with MEPs observing a minute's silence. Several members of Caruana Galizia's family attended the session at the hemicycle in Strasbourg. The press room at the European parliament building was renamed in her honour. A debate on freedom of the press and the protection of journalists in Malta also took place. Following this visit and the following debate, a delegation is to be sent by the European Parliament to investigate the rule of law, high-level cases of money laundering and corruption in Malta.
The car bombing was reported in both local and international media. Caruana Galizia's name began trending worldwide on Twitter, and a number of Maltese expressed their mourning by blacking out their Facebook profile pictures. The hashtag #JeSuisDaphne, echoing the term Je suis Charlie, trended locally.
The Malta Independent wrote that “for many people, looking up her blog was the first thing they did each day, and the last thing too. Now there is just emptiness. A silence that speaks volumes.” Both the daily and the weekly version of her column were published as blank pages in the days following her murder.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced that he would pay a €20,000 reward "for information leading to the conviction of Caruana Galizia's killers." A crowdfunding campaign was initiated with the aim of raising €1 million to be given as a reward for information that leads "to the successful prosecution of the assassin and the person or persons who ordered the assassination." This was followed by a further state-sanctioned reward of €1 million.
Students, ex-alumni, teachers, parents and members of the San Anton community held a peaceful vigil from City Gate to the Great Siege Monument in Valletta, in support of the Caruana Galizia family. The three Caruana Galizia siblings were all students of San Anton School.
On 22 October 2017, the Civil Society Network organised a protest demanding justice in Valletta. Thousands of protesters demanded justice in the aftermath of the assassination and called for the immediate resignation of the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General.
A number of protesters who took part in the rally, also went on to the police headquarters in Floriana to call for the police commissioner's resignation. After staging a sit-in protest in front of the main door, a banner with a photo of police chief Lawrence Cutajar accompanied with the words “No change, no justice – irrizenja (resign)” was placed on the headquarters' gate.
On 17 April 2018, a consortium of 45 journalists from 18 news organisations, including The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and the Times of Malta, published "The Daphne Project", a collaborative effort to complete Caruana Galizia's investigative work.
After her death, crowds gathered in front of the Law Courts, to mourn and express solidarity with the Caruana Galizia family and to demand justice. The Great Siege Monument became a focal point for protests and calls for justice, with tributes, memorials and vigils held there frequently. The choice of this monument as a remembrance site, though strategically located opposite the law courts, was spontaneous, a follow-up to the flowers which were first placed there by San Anton School pupils.
The GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information was named in honour of Galizia in 2018 and again in 2019. It is sponsored by the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left members of which are left-wing members of the European Parliament. The award is "dedicated to individuals or groups who have been intimidated and/or persecuted for uncovering the truth and exposing it to the public".
The European Parliament held a minute's silence to honour the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The media room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg was named to the memory of Caruana Galizia in November 2017. A portrait by Marie Louise Kold now hangs outside the press room.
Forensic teams and police investigators arrived at the crime scene soon after the explosions. The head of the magisterial inquiry was initially to be Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera, who had previously had the police prosecute Caruana Galizia for criminal libel in 2010–11. Caruana Galizia's family successfully challenged her role in the investigation, citing her conflict of interest. Scerri Herrera recused herself from the investigation 17 hours later and was replaced by Magistrate Anthony Vella.
Muscat stated that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation was asked to help the police in investigating the car bomb attack. A police forensic investigation team from the Netherlands also arrived to assist. The investigators were also joined by three Europol officials. On 4 December 2017, Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat announced that ten individuals had been arrested in connection to the investigation, three of whom were later charged with executing the assassination. The suspects were identified as George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred Degiorgio, and their friend Vince Muscat. None of the three suspects have been brought to trial. None of the intermediaries and mandators have been identified and prosecuted. Malta's prime minister continues to block a public inquiry into the circumstances of Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Caruana Galizia's remains were released for burial on 27 October 2017, and a public funeral was held on 3 November 2017 at the Rotunda of Mosta. Thousands of mourners attended the funeral, applauding and making "V" for victory signs as her coffin was carried out of the church by her sons. The day was observed as a national day of mourning in Malta.
The funeral mass was conducted by Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta, who in his homily told journalists "never to grow weary in your mission to be the eyes, the ears, and the mouth of the people." In a message directed to Caruana Galizia's sons, Matthew, Andrew, and Paul, he said: "As you know, whenever your mother was abroad, she had a habit of lighting a candle in church for each one of you: the silent prayer of a mother for her children ... Your beloved mother died a cruel death by the hidden hand of someone that valued darkness over the light for his actions are evil. See that you will always be the children of the light."
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat did not attend the funeral, saying Caruana Galizia's family made it clear that they were not welcome. The Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia, was "conspicuous by his absence".
Among the people at the funeral were several high officials: Silvio Camilleri, Chief Justice of Malta; Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament; Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media; Eddie Fenech Adami, former President of Malta and former leader of the Nationalist Party; Lawrence Gonzi, former Prime Minister of Malta and former leader of the Nationalist Party; and Simon Busuttil, former leader of the Nationalist Party.
Awards and honoursEdit
Salle Daphne Caruana Galizia - press room dedication, November 2018, European Parliament Building, Strasbourg, France.
Reporter Preis - awarded 1 December 2017, Reporter Forum, Berlin, Germany.
Pegaso d’Argento - awarded 1 December 2017, Tuscan Reguonal Council, Italy
Premio Giornalisti - awarded 14 December 2017, Tuscan Journalists Association, Italy
Person of the Year - 2 December 2017, La Repubblica, Italy
Nothing But The Truth - awarded 5 January 2018, Giuseppe Fava Foundation, Catania, Italy
Tully Free Speech Award - awarded 3 April 2018,Tully Center for Free Speech, Newhouse School, Syracuse University, USA
Civitas Award - awarded 12 April 2018, Associazione Nazionale Donne Elettrici (A.N.D.E.), Nocera, Italy
The Astor Award - awarded 16 April 2018, Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust, London, UK
Anna Politkovskaya Award - awarded 23 April 2018, Swedish National Press Club, Stockholm, Sweden
Premio Mario Francese - awarded 2 May 2018, Sicilian Order of Journalists, Palermo, Italy
Difference Day Honorary Title - awarded 5 May 2018, Brussels University Alliance, Brussels, Belgium
Conscience in Media Award - awarded 18 May 2018, American Society of Journalists and Authors, New York, USA
Contribution to Society Award - awarded 23 May 2018, European Leadership Awards, Brussels, Belgium
Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right to Information - 2018 award dedicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia, GUE/NGL, Strasbourg, France
PEC 2018 - awarded 4 June 2018, Press Emblem Campaign, Geneva, Switzerland
Newseum Memorial - rededicated 4 June 2018, Newseum, Washington, USA
Premio Leali delle Notizie - award dedicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia, 9 June 2018, Ronchi dei Legionari, Italy
Premio Luca Colletti - awarded 15 June 2018, Rome, Italy
MCCV Annual Award - awarded 21 July 2018, Maltse Community Council of Victoria, Australia
Commemoration - 4 October 2018, Themis & Metis, Camera dei Deputati, Rome, Italy
War Reporters Memorial commemoration - 11 October 2018, Reporters Without Borders, Bayeux, France
Anti-Corruption Award - 21 October 2018, Transparency International.
Premio Europeo Giornalismo Giudiziario e Investigativo - awarded 28 October 2018, Taormina, Italy
Martin Adler Prize - awarded 1 November 2018, Rory Peck Trust, London, UK
Golden Victoria for Press Freedom - 5 November 2018, German Free Press & VDZ, Berlin, Germany.
Portrait of Daphne Caruana Galizia - unveiled 23 October 2018, press room, European Parliament Building, Strasbourg, France
Medal of the City of Strasbourg - awarded 14 November 2018, City of Strasbourg, France
Libera Ragusa Presidio dedicated to the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia on 30 April 2018
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- European Parliament
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