ETUC calls on EU leaders to push for justice for murdered Maltese journalist

A placard is seen at an improvised memorial of Daphne Caruana Galizia during a demonstration to demand justice over the murder of the journalist outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta, December 1, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) joined other international organizations in an urgent call to European leaders to hold Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to account for political interference in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder investigation. The European Trades Union Council (ETUC) of which the GWU is a member endorsed this position saying “ETUC supports the European and International Federations of Journalists and other organisations who have called on EU leaders meeting today to push the Prime Minister of Malta to guarantee that all investigations and legal proceedings related to the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are carried out efficiently, transparently and without interference”.

The IFJ/EFJ urged the European Union leaders to call on Prime Minister Muscat to guarantee that all investigations and legal proceedings related to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder are conducted efficiently, transparently and without any interference from any individual potentially implicated in the case.

“Recent developments in the investigation have shown that Prime Minister Muscat is inextricably linked to several suspects in the case,” wrote the organisations. They added that “Yorgen Fenech, the former head of the Electrogas Malta energy company, has accused the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri of ordering it. Fenech shares vested financial interests with Schembri as well as cabinet minister Konrad Mizzi through 17 Black – a shell company set up by Fenech to provide kickbacks to the two men. Further information provided in court also indicates that other staff within the Prime Minister’s office may also be involved, including one of his former close protection officers”.

The organisations added that in addition to these emerging allegations, Prime Minister Muscat had consistently placed himself at the centre of the investigation, acting as the main source of information in relation to its progress including whether pardons will be given to suspects in exchange for evidence. The Police Commissioner and Attorney General, they said, have been absent from communications with the public and press.

EU institutions have already expressed concern. They referred to a phone call which the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová made to Maltese Justice Minister Owen Bonnici that the investigation be brought to a conclusion without any political interference.

A mission to Malta last week by Members of the European Parliament found that the Prime Minister “poses a risk, real or perceived, to [the] integrity of the murder investigation.” The mission also recommended that the European Commission “engage in a rule of law dialogue” with Malta with the hope of addressing concerns with the authorities – a step taken in advance of looking at possible infringement procedures, added the organisations.