A respected investigative journalist who exposed links to the Panama Papers by those in her home country of Malta was killed when a bomb went off in her car.
Daphne Caruana Galizia had driven away from her home in Mosta on Monday afternoon, moments before the explosion which sent her Peuguot over a wall and into a field, according to the Guardian.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who called Caruana Galizia one of his “harshest critics”, said the “barbaric attack” amounted to an assault on freedom of expression.
The controversial journalist ran a very popular blog called, “Running Commentary,” and was dubbed a “blogging fury” and a “one-woman WikiLeaks” in a Politico EU list of 28 people “shaping, shaking and stirring Europe.”
Outraged to hear that Maltese investigative journalist+blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia has been murdered this afternoon not far from her home with a car bomb. I issue a €20k reward for information leading to the conviction of her killers. Her blog: https://t.co/XQCEXBKYn3 pic.twitter.com/ITHlBRzr0J
— Julian Assange ? (@JulianAssange) October 16, 2017
The 53 year-old had led the charge with the Panama Papers tax evasion investigative expose last year that revealed the names of powerful elites with offshore holdings in Panama. Caruana Galizia had revealed that Muscat’s wife Michelle and members of his Government were among those who had companies in Panama, allegations denied by the prime minister.
Just two weeks ago, Caruana Galizia had filed a report with the police about threats she was receiving.
“There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate,” she had written in her last blog post just half an hour before she was killed, ABC.au reported.
The country was left in shock as even those who were the targets of her “scathing pen” condemned the attack.
She was “loved and resented in equal measure in politically divided Malta,” Times of Malta online editor Herman Grech wrote. “Her scathing pen spared no punches.”
“Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” Muscat said at a press conference, “both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”
This is a spiteful attack on a citizen and freedom of expression. I will not rest until justice is done. The country deserves justice -JM
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) October 16, 2017
“A political murder took place today,” Opposition leader Adrian Delia said in a statement. “What happened today is not an ordinary killing. It is a consequence of the total collapse of the rule of law which has been going on for the past four years.”
— Beppe Galea (@BepGal) October 16, 2017
One of Caruana Galizia’s sons heard the explosion from their home and rushed out to the scene, the Guardian reported. Matthew Caruana Galizia, a journalist and programmer who works for he International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington, blasted Malta as a “mafia state” run by “crooks” in an emotional Facebook post.
“My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it, like many strong journalists,” he wrote, according to the Guardian. “But she was also targeted because she was the only person doing so. This is what happens when the institutions of the state are incapacitated: the last person left standing is often a journalist. Which makes her the first person left dead.”
He recounted that he would never forget “running around the inferno in the field, trying to figure out a way to open the door, the horn of the car still blaring, screaming at two policemen who turned up with a single fire extinguisher to use it.”
An official previously targeted by Caruana Galizia is part of the team investigating the alleged assassination of the journalist but the family reportedly asked for magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera to remove herself from the case, according to Malta Today.
About 3,000 people gathered for a vigil to mourn her death.
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