Crusading journalist blown up

The wreckage of the car driven by investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia lies in a farm field next to a road in the town of Mosta, Malta.
The wreckage of the car driven by investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia lies in a farm field next to a road in the town of Mosta, Malta. Rene Rossignaud

A PROMINENT journalist who played a major role in the Panama Papers case has been murdered in Malta.

Daphne Caruana Galizia (pictured), whose investigative work focused on corruption, was killed when a bomb blew her car to pieces.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said her death marked the "collapse of the rule of law” in Malta, the smallest country in the European Union.

Tributes to Ms Galizia poured in on Monday evening as thousands of Maltese gathered in the streets for a candlelight vigil.

Ms Galizia is believed to have published the last post on her widely read blog, Running Commentary, just before leaving her house in Mosta, a town outside the capital Valletta.

"There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she had written, "the situation is desperate.”

Soon after she drove away, her rental Peugeot 108 exploded with such force it was sent flying over a wall into a field.

She reported death threats against her to police two weeks ago, according to local media. Her in-depth blog made her many enemies, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, opposition politicians and judges.

She was described as a "one-woman Wikileaks” by Politico and the blog sometimes had a larger readership than all Malta's newspapers - 400,000 in a country of 450,000.

Mr Delia called it a political murder: "What happened today is not an ordinary killing. It is a consequence of the total collapse of the rule of law which has been going on for the past four years. We will not accept an investigation by the Commissioner of Police, Army commander or duty magistrate, all of whom were at the heart of criticism by Caruana Galizia.”

Her husband, Peter Galizia, has also requested magistrate Scerri Herrera is be excluded from the investigation because of previous spats with the dead journalist.

The PM acknowledged Ms Galizia as one of his "harshest critics” but denounced the "barbaric attack” as "unacceptable”.

He said the violence was a "barbaric attack on press freedom”.

After analysing the leaked Panama Papers, Ms Galizia accused the PM's wife of owning a suspicious offshore company in Panama.

Both Mr Muscat and his wife denied the accusations and sued Galizia earlier this year.

Shortly after her death, Mr Muscat announced FBI experts would be helping the investigation.

The murder sent shockwaves throughout Europe and politicians and journalists sent their condolences.

European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, described the murder as "brutal” and said: "Tragic example of journalist who sacrificed her life to seek out the truth. She won't be forgotten.”

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders noted Ms Galizia's bank account was frozen following her revelations about alleged government corruption.

Politico called her a "one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency and corruption in Malta”.

- Will Worley, The Independent

Topics:  investigative journalist malta mosta one-woman wikileaks panama papers running commentary blog

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