The International Press Institute (IPI) today welcomed the first conviction for the 2017 murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as an important step forward in the path to full justice for her assassination.
IPI, a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, also welcomed the indictment of two individuals accused of suppling the bomb that killed her and expressed hope the developments would help bring the mastermind to justice.
“The first conviction for Daphne’s killing and the fresh charges are important developments that we hope will lead to new evidence and testimony about the alleged masterminds”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “But we must state very clearly that this is only the first step on the long road to justice. This case is far from over.
“As we saw with the recent acquittal of the alleged mastermind of the murder of Ján Kuciak in Slovakia, arrests alone do not guarantee convictions. To break the cycle of impunity, it is essential that all those responsible for this heinous murder be tried and convicted. Only full justice will suffice.”
On Wednesday February 24, Malta’s national police chief, Angelo Gafa, declared that every person suspected of involvement in the 2017 murder was now either “under arrest or facing charges”.
It comes after a shock admission of guilt a day earlier by one of the three men charged with planting and detonating the car bomb, Vincent Muscat.
Muscat was sentenced the same day to 15 years in prison after changing his plea to guilty in return for supplying state prosecutors with information about others involved in the murder.
The two other men charged with executing the assassination, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, were in court at the time but maintain their innocence.
#Malta‘s police chief claims all suspects in the murder of journalist #DaphneCaruanaGalizia are now apprehended or charged. As we saw in #Slovakia, arrests alone are not guarantee of justice. All those responsible must be tried and convicted. @daphnefdtnhttps://t.co/9zTwFy8pEB
— IPI – The Global Network for Press Freedom (@globalfreemedia) February 25, 2021
On Tuesday, Robert Agius and his associate Jamie Vella were arrested during raids on their homes and charged with supplying the bomb to murder Caruana Galizia, allegations they denied.
The confessed middleman, taxi driver Melvin Theuma, secured a presidential pardon in return for testimony about the main suspects in the contract killing but attempted suicide last summer.
The alleged mastermind, Maltese businessman and property tycoon Yorgen Fenech, has also been charged with complicity in the killing and denies the allegations.
Caruana Galizia’s family welcomed the conviction, saying “this step will begin to lead to full justice”.
Fenech has accused senior political figures of having prior knowledge of the assassination, and others believe the killing was ordered by top figures in the Maltese establishment.
Muscat was also given a presidential pardon to provide information about the separate 2015 murder of Maltese lawyer Carmel Chircop.
This statement by IPI is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.