Assassination Daphne: PM, your clock is ticking – Legal advice to family

A legal opinion requested by the family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has advised that the Maltese government be given until the end of August 2018 to open an inquiry or potentially face human rights challenges in the international sphere. Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, in their opinion said that to meet the requirement of efficacy needed by the European Convention on Human Rights, the investigation must have certain key features, including sufficient promptness and adequate involvement of the bereaved family. International human rights standards require no less, wrote Bhatt Murphy.

Bhatt Murphy Solicitors reiterated its legal opinion that the Government of Malta must expeditiously call for an independent and effective investigation into the circumstances of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. This call was repeated after a similar legal opinion was issued in December 2017. Bhatt Murphy Solicitors are urging that the State investigation would examine the possibility of state culpability and/ or failure on the part of institutions which led to the killing of this prominent journalist.

The legal opinion considers Malta to be in continuing violation of its investigative duty. The position said Bhatt Murphy, has in fact deteriorated since Deputy Commissioner Valletta remained closely involved in the ongoing criminal investigation until very recently and the Government continues to contest a court ruling that his involvement was unlawful. Bhatt Murphy said there is a complete absence of any investigation into the crucial issue of whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death could have been prevented. They warned that the Maltese Government continues to politicise this case.

According to Bhatt Murphy, Malta should without further delay invite Europol to conduct a parallel criminal investigation alongside the ongoing criminal investigation by Magistrate Camilleri; and establish a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act. They specified that the inquiry should be independent, effective , transparent and capable of determining whether the Maltese authorities knew, or ought to have known, of a real and immediate risk to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life, whether her  assassination could have been prevented and whether any changes to the law, policies or practices are required in order to protect the lives of investigative journalists and/ or anticorruption campaigners in Malta.

Bhatt Murphy said that in view of the widespread concern, both nationally and internationally, regarding the circumstances surrounding Ms Caruana Galizia’s assassination and their investigation, the Board of Inquiry of the Public Inquiry must include one or more senior judicial figure with complete and demonstrable independence from the Maltese authorities.

The solicitors concluded that the family should now ask the Maltese Government to take these steps as a matter of priority.

Request for Public Inquiry

Legal Opinion in Support of Public Inquiry

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Daphne’s son Paul Caruana Galizia said as follows:

“The Prime Minister of Malta has previously made a public promise that he would leave no stone unturned in relation to the investigation of my mother’s murder. Yet so far he has refused to establish a Public Inquiry to investigate whether her assassination could have been prevented, despite his legal obligation to do so. It is hoped that the Prime Minister will respond to today’s request by setting up a Public Inquiry without further delay so that further evidence is not lost. He has nothing to fear but the truth.”

Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy said as follows:

“I am part of an international team of lawyers acting for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia in their search for the truth surrounding her assassination. In view of the urgent need to preserve evidence of any state complicity or neglect surrounding Ms Caruana Galizia’s assassination, we have requested a response from the Prime Minister by 31st August. If the Prime Minister refuses to institute a Public Inquiry that complies with the European Convention on Human Rights, the family will have no option but to commence legal proceedings in Malta and perhaps ultimately in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. “