Matthew Caruana Galizia jgħid lil Daily Telegraph li assoċċazzjoni fl-Olanda tat 40,000 euro lill-ommu biex tiġġieled il-libelli.

Ftit tal-jiem ilu, Matthew Caruana Galizia ta intervista lill-ġurnalista ta’ The Daily Telegraph. Mhux ser nidħol fid-dettall ta’ din l-intervista li hija bbażata fuq nofs veritajiet u anki gideb bħal meta ġiet repetuta l-ħrafa li Yorgen fenech inqabad waqt li kien qed jaħrab minn Malta meta ħareġ ċar fix-xhieda fil-qorti li l-kaptan tal-yacht tiegħu informa lit-turretta li kien ħiereġ. Ħadd ma jipprova jaħrab minn Malta u jinforma lill-awtoritajiet li qed ikun ser iħalli l-gżira.

Imma l-iskop għala qed nikteb dan l-artiklu huwa ieħor. F’dan l-artiklu ħareġ dettall li qatt ma ntqal qabel. Matthew Caruana Galizia jgħid li l-libelli kienu nfetħu mill-Gvern Malti. Naħseb anki hawn, din il-ġurnalista ma tafx il-fatti sew. Sa fejn naf jien, il-gvern Malti qatt ma għamel libell lill-familja Caruana Galizia.

Il-libelli nfetħu min-nies privati u anki meta eks-ministru Chris Cardona – li jissemma f’din l-intervista mingħajr ma jissemma’ b’ismu – fetaħ libell jew libelli, dan fetaħhom f’ismu u mhux f’isem il-gvern. Kieku nfetħu mill-Gvern, kien jidher l-avukat ġenerali. Kien hemm imbagħad libelli miftuħa minn Adrian Delia. Anki dawn kienu miftuħa f’ismu u kien hemm ħafna libelli miftuħa mill-Group tad-DB. Mela għala din il-ġurnalista qed tgħid li dawn infetħu mill-Gvern Malti? Kont nistenna aktar serjeta’ minn The Daily Telegraph. Biex ma jkunx hemm xi ħadd jgħajjarni li qed nigdeb ara x’inkiteb:

After Daphne’s death, her family assumed the libel actions against her by the Maltese government would be dropped. They were wrong.

“Instead they were transferred to us, her family, for exactly the same reason. They wanted to exhaust and demoralise us,” says Matthew. “Instead we fought tooth and nail and won the majority of the cases.”

It was only possible because the Amsterdam-based body Free Press Unlimited gave them €40,000 for legal fees.

Fuq kollox kif wieħed jista’ jara, il-familja ppretendiet li l-libelli kellhom jaqgħu għax inqatlet. Din hija issue ġuridika u mhux tal-gvern. Jekk xi ħadd ikollu libell u jmut, dawn jgħaddu fuq l-eredi, bħal mad-djun u l-propjeta’ jgħaddu fuq l-eredi.

Imma li ma ntqalx huwa li wara li mietet, ħafna minn dawk li fetħu libelli kontra Daphne Caruana Galizia waqqgħuhom mingħajr ebda kundizzjoni. Kieku Adrian Delia baqa’ għaddej bil-libell, kien jerbħu żgur. L-istess għamlu d-DB Group.

U hawn tiġi l-mistoqsija. Jekk dawn waqqgħu l-libelli, il-familja rritornat il-flus li daħħlet jew li ma wżatx biex tiġġieled dawn il-libelli? Dawn jiftaħru li jagħmlu kollox kif suppost u jridu kollox bit-trasparenza. F’isem it-trasparenza ser jippubblikaw u jagħtu rendikont ta’ kif intużaw dawn l-40,000 euro la darba l-libelli, kważi kollha twaqqgħu?

Dak li hu interessanti li dan l-artiklu f’The Daily Telegraph ma tantx ingħata prominenza mill-media lokali. Min jaf għalfejn?

L-artiklu f’The Telegraph huwa dan:

‘My mother’s hitman said murdering her was just business as usual’

A car bomb killed Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia five years ago but her son is still searching for justice

ByJudith Woods16 July 2022 • 10:00am

Matthew Caruana Galizia
‘My mother felt compelled to write the way a musician feels compelled to play’ CREDIT: Dragana Rankovic

The last time Matthew Caruana Galizia spoke to his mother, Daphne, she was heading to the bank. It was October 2017 and a Maltese government minister had ordered the courts to freeze the investigative journalist’s accounts. With typical single-mindedness she refused to take the decision lying down and intended to fight for access to her money.

Daphne left her home near the village of Bidnija and drove off in her Peugeot 108. Moments later she was blown to smithereens by a bomb that had been planted in her car.

“I heard a huge explosion, which made the windows shake, and ran out of the house,” says Matthew, 36, speaking to me in the kitchen where they last exchanged words. “I tore through the gates barefoot and sprinted down the road. All I saw was a tower of fire and smoke. There was no car anymore, just the remains of a hubcap and pieces of flesh on the ground.”

He delivers this horrific, unforgettable detail with such matter-of-factness that I gasp. He holds my gaze evenly and does not elaborate. What else is there to say?

Every day he drives down that same stretch of road where his mother was assassinated. Over the years his pain has been cauterised, his grief transformed into an urgent mission for justice and truth.

Daphne, 53, was a mother of three sons, wife of a lawyer and a witty, provocative writer whose opinions had made her a household name in Malta. She published a monthly food and interiors magazine. On her English-language website, Running Commentary, she railed against hypocrisy and corruption in the febrile world of Maltese politics.

But her tireless investigations into fraud, cronyism and money laundering in the highest echelons of Maltese society made her powerful enemies. Described by Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”, she was persecuted, threatened and ultimately killed for her crusade against corruption.

Matthew as a child with his mother Daphne and one of his brothers
Matthew as a child with his mother Daphne and one of his brothers

“My mother was silenced because she dared to speak out and hold the ruling class to account,” says Matthew, the eldest of her boys, who now heads the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, which champions investigative journalism. “But her spirit cannot be killed. It lives on. She was the best sort of person; superbly brave, passionate, unstoppable in the pursuit of injustice.”

At the time of her death, Daphne was investigating a highly controversial power station deal. One of Malta’s richest businessmen, Yorgen Fenech, was a main shareholder and director of the plant. Fenech was arrested while attempting to flee Malta in his yacht in 2019, and was charged with commissioning three men to carry out the hit on Daphne – a charge he denies. He remains in prison. 

Two years earlier, the three men had been arrested and charged with Daphne’s murder. Earlier this month, one of them confessed to the crime

In an interview with the Reuters journalist Stephen Grey, George Degiorgio admitted his guilt – and claimed he would also provide testimony to implicate others in the murder. The confession, which appears in Grey’s hard-hitting six-part podcast Who Killed Daphne?, made headlines globally. 

“It was just business,” Degiorgio told Grey in the podcast. “Yeah. Business as usual.” He added that if he had been aware of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s status he would have asked for more money, which was paid in euros. “If I knew, I’d have gone for 10 million, not 150,000.”

Matthew, a disarmingly youthful figure with blue eyes, is barely able to respond when I bring the subject up, raising his hands to cover his face. “I don’t think I have the words,” he says in flawless English, after a long pause. “Something inside me is twisted with disgust. I have always considered these psychopathic hitmen to be like pieces of evidence that would eventually lead to the person who commissioned my mother’s assassination.

“They should spend the rest of their lives in prison. But so should the man who paid them to wipe her off the face of the earth.”

Daphne, the eldest of four sisters, was first exposed to politics in her late teens, when she was arrested, aged 18, while taking part in an anti-government protest. The policeman who arrested her went on to become the speaker of the Maltese parliament. She became a news reporter in 1987, then a columnist and editor. 

Matthew recalls a childhood of threatening phone calls, an arson attack and angry abuse aimed at his mother for throwaway jokes she made in her columns about religion, divorce and the stultifying lack of opportunities for Maltese women to work outside the home. 

When he was seven years old, the family dog had its throat slit, its still-warm body carefully laid out on the doorstep. For her part, Daphne would not – could not – stop. 

“My mother felt compelled to write the way a musician feels compelled to play,” says Matthew.

There were protests after Daphne’s murder
There were protests after Daphne’s murder CREDIT: REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

In the years before her death, Daphne’s work gained huge traction as she reported on nepotism, patronage and allegations of money laundering. She shone a spotlight on links between Malta’s online gambling industry and organised crime and the blatant trade in passports. 

The government and vested businesses responded with venom. Daphne became the subject of no fewer than 47 defamation cases, aimed at bogging her down, crippling her financially and distracting from her investigations. 

She drew comparisons with The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s play about the persecution of women branded as witches in the 17th century. The treatment meted out to her – she was ostracised, rejected, publicly pilloried – was indeed medieval. But with a very modern update.

“My mother was labelled a ‘hate blogger’ in official government statements as a way of dehumanising her,” says Matthew. “The Maltese prime minister’s spokesman set up a website in which he tracked my mother’s movements and encouraged members of the public to take photographs of her on the beach or going about her business which he then posted with captions like ‘Oh look, Daphne’s having a pedicure today’.

“It was targeted harassment. She was interested in exposing wrongdoing and corruption and found herself singled out for mockery and humiliation.”

The constant surveillance had a profound effect on his mother, who stopped going to the beach and rarely left the house. Unusually, the morning she was killed, she and her husband briefly went to a village fete – a picture of them embracing was snatched on a smartphone and immediately posted with the words “Daphne enjoying a romantic moment”.

“That post was never taken down, it’s still there,” says Matthew, flatly. “No respect was shown to her, even in death. In the first 48 hours after she was killed the authorities tried to manipulate us as a family for propaganda purposes; the prime minister asked the president to persuade us to appear alongside the government in a show of national unity.

“We had this bizarre scenario where the president kept repeatedly calling my father on his mobile phone and he told her time and again that we wouldn’t do it,” smiles Matthew ruefully. “I remember thinking how insulting it was – why would we show unity with the people who were responsible for this assassination?”

Matthew
‘People imagine that organised crime is guys in tracksuits with gold chains trying to push cocaine on the street. Sure, that’s a part of it, but only a very small element.’ CREDIT: Dragana Rankovic

Daphne’s violent death drew horror and outrage from around the world. The people of Malta were shocked to the core; her killing felt personal. Matthew says he received tens of thousands of messages from people – he still looks at them occasionally, and replies to a few. “What strikes me every time is just how close they felt to her and how deeply they were mourning her loss.” 

International condemnation and protests over her killing forced Joseph Muscat, in power at the time, to resign as prime minister. And a damning inquiry last year singled him and his entire cabinet out as bearing responsibility for Daphne’s murder

In a detailed document, the inquiry board, made up of former judges, accused the Maltese state of creating a pervasive “atmosphere of impunity” that allowed her killers to believe they would face minimal consequences. 

“The state should shoulder responsibility for the assassination,” was the conclusion. 

Matthew and his father still live in the family house in the parched countryside where the foundation operates from the basement. On a dusty unnamed road, framed by prickly pears and pink bougainvillaea in bloom, it is guarded 24 hours a day by a policeman in a sentry box. No one in the family asked for it, Matthew tells me with a shrug. The police unilaterally decided it was necessary. 

It’s a reminder that because he’s carrying on with his mother’s work, Matthew and his co-workers are also at risk. But from whom?

At the time of her death, Daphne was investigating a highly controversial power station deal
At the time of her death, Daphne was investigating a highly controversial power station deal CREDIT: AP Photo/Jon Borg

In the elegant capital city of Valetta, half an hour’s drive away, the tourist season is in full swing in this Mediterranean honeypot. A former British colony until it gained independence in 1964, Malta bears the relics of colonialism with its red phone boxes, George Cross emblem and large statue of Queen Victoria in Republic Street. The Maltese even drive on the left.

Around 500,000 UK visitors annually flock to admire its fortifications and baroque splendour, Christian statuary and Moorish architecture. In the evenings, live music drifts across busy squares where families dine late on locally caught lobster. It is undoubtedly a place of great beauty. But Daphne had uncovered an ugly underbelly of crime and her outrage was palpable.

In her very last post before she was killed she presciently wrote: “There are crooks everywhere you look. The situation is desperate.”

The evening before my meeting with Matthew I fell into conversation with a local couple in a restaurant. The woman asked me why I was alone in Malta. I told her I was a journalist. She shook her head: “Malta is not safe for journalists,” she said, vehemently. The moment gave me pause. I didn’t ask her to elaborate any further.

Next morning at reception I requested a taxi to visit Matthew and the hotel manager’s eyes narrowed as I relayed my destination. “Daphne was killed there. You know about Daphne?”

In her home, the open-plan living area is crammed with quirky artworks and tasteful antiques; elaborate Indonesian furniture, bronzes, ceramics. A carved plaster whale hangs from the ceiling alongside a fantastical horse with a mermaid’s tail. Even in her absence, Daphne is everywhere. 

But why should this tragedy, appalling though it may be to those who loved and respect her, matter to us in Britain?

“People imagine that organised crime is guys in tracksuits with gold chains trying to push cocaine on the street,” says Matthew. “Sure, that’s a part of it, but only a very small element. Organised crime is about kleptocrats stealing money, moving money, coercion, corruption and bribery across international borders. The UK is no different. One of the things I really worry about is the growing opacity in the workings of government – the absence of effective checks and balances.

“It is down to investigative journalists to risk their lives by investigating and exposing the truth. This isn’t just in Malta, it is a situation that the UK is heading towards. Everyone who cares about democracy should care about the political murder of a journalist.”

Daphne and Matthew together
‘I never thought in a million years I’d be here, carrying on her work, but this is where I find myself’

After Daphne’s death, her family assumed the libel actions against her by the Maltese government would be dropped. They were wrong.

“Instead they were transferred to us, her family, for exactly the same reason. They wanted to exhaust and demoralise us,” says Matthew. “Instead we fought tooth and nail and won the majority of the cases.”

It was only possible because the Amsterdam-based body Free Press Unlimited gave them €40,000 for legal fees.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over my mother’s death,” says Matthew. “How could I? She was quite simply an extraordinary human being, with so much energy and drive and talent. She was compassionate and really listened when you spoke to her. She wasn’t a tactile person who hugged everyone, she was affectionate in other ways; every Christmas even though I was a grown man over 30, she would stay up all night and put together Christmas stockings for us all, with everything individually wrapped including the chocolate coins.

“I never thought in a million years I’d be here, carrying on her work, but this is where I find myself. I want justice for my mother but also justice for her investigations. This is not over.”

As I leave, I pass the lone police officer keeping his vigil in the broiling heat, his very presence speaking volumes about a culture where telling the truth still brings with it the risk of summary execution. This is definitely not over.

‘Who Killed Daphne?’ from Wondery is now available on all major podcast platforms including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Wondery app

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