Three charged in Malta journalist murder

Daphne Caruana Galizia

VALLETTA - Three of the 10 suspects brought in by Maltese authorities for the assassination of Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galicia, are going to trial. The remaining seven are currently out on police bail. The investigation utilised strong circumstantial evidence to tie the three to the murder while remaining unclear as to their motive.

Vince Muscat and brothers, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio, were arraigned before a magistrate with Caruana Galicia’s widow watching on. The three are well known criminals in Malta and have convictions relating to possible mafia activities yet the trio deny the charges.

 Their motive, whether personal or monetary, remains obscure while triangulation of cell phone locations, including the location of the phone that detonated the bomb, has provided strong evidence that the three men are guilty.

 Caruana Galicia was murdered brutally on Oct. 16 in a car bombing near her home in her native Malta. The murder was suspected to be a warning of her investigation into an underground cartel of petroleum and drugs that funnel into Europe from Libya through the small Mediterranean island.

 Caruana Galicia was not popular amongst Maltese authorities due to her outspoken stance towards institutional corruption, showcased most clearly by her central role in the “Panama papers” in 2015. Her unpopularity led many investigators and judges to cite a conflict of interest in presiding over her case due to personal attacks from the journalist.

 The international reaction against Caruana Galicia’s murder was severely critical, leading 8 of the largest international news organisations, including the BBC and the Guardian, to declare in an open letter that “the eyes of Europe are on the Maltese authorities. Answers need to be provided and crimes prosecuted. We want those directly and indirectly responsible for this horrible murder to be brought to justice.”

 Prime Minister Muscat reacted to the international pressure by appealing for international assistance in the investigation from organisations that include the FBI.

 The latest arrests, like the seven before, are of Maltese nationals that have prior criminal convictions. While a motive has not been established, it had been suspected that the Libyan mafia was behind the murders, a fact not yet reflected by the demographics of those found by the investigation.

 Muscat has emphasised he is “more than ever committed" to finding those responsible for the assassination against his compatriot.