A report by the Council of Europe has denounced the inaction of the Maltese authorities in the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb in October 2017 after reporting on corruption cases, including in relation to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Three men suspected of carrying out her murder were charged in December 2017, but those who ordered the journalist killed have still not been identified.
“Eighteen months after being presented to a judge, the three men suspected of the murder of Caruana Galizia have still not been tried,” wrote Pieter Omtzigt, the Dutch MP who authored the report.
“In two months they will have to be released.”
The resolution, which will be voted on by the elected representatives of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, asks the Maltese government to relaunch the investigation with an independent public inquiry.
Some of the serious concerns raised by the Committee about the investigation include the need to recuse a series of magistrates and the investigative officer from the case because of conflicts of interest, the failure of the police to interrogate economy minister Chris Cardona, despite claims that he had had contacts with the suspects, the allegation that a police officer warned the suspects before they were arrested and the possibility that the Maltese security service may have had prior intelligence about the murder plot.
The resolution also denounces the absence of a system of checks and balances in the island-state as senior police and judicial officials are appointed by the prime minister, threatening their independence from the government.
“The recent events in Malta illustrate the serious damage that can result from failures of the system,” said Pieter Omtzigt, who added that they constitute “a vulnerability for the whole of Europe”.
“A Maltese visa is a Schengen visa and a Maltese bank gives access to the whole of the European banking system,” he said, adding that “if Malta does not correct or does not correct these weaknesses, the European institutions must intervene.”