Two of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s killers jailed for 40 years

Two men were sentenced to 40 years in prison each Friday for the 2017 murder by car bomb of Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, a brutal murder that shocked Europe and drew international attention to the underworld. criminal from the small Mediterranean country.

The brothers George Degiorgio, 59, and Alfred Degiorgio, 57, who previously pleaded innocent, pleaded guilty to the murder of Caruana Galizia, a meat thief who had investigated drugs, arms dealers, politicians and judges in a country widely known as a picturesque tourist destination. They had faced life imprisonment.

Prosecutors said the brothers were hired to kill Caruana Galizia by one of Malta’s wealthiest people, Yorgen Fenech, according to the Associated Press. Fenech is awaiting trial. There were also questions about the role, if any, played by politicians in his death. Caruana Galizia had linked the associates of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with suspicious financial transactions described in the Panama Papers, which detailed the hidden infrastructure of offshore tax havens. (An investigation later cleared Muscat and his associates of wrongdoing related to that scandal.)

In a blog post published on the day of her murder, Caruana Galizia accused a prominent aide in Muscat of corruption. The aide – who was subsequently sanctioned by the United States – denies wrongdoing. The premier was expelled in 2020 by protesters who were furious at how the investigation into her murder was handled; an independent investigation concluded last year that the Maltese state is responsible for her death due to its “culture of impunity” and failure to recognize the risk to her life.

“It’s been half a decade of agony for Daphne’s family and for the country,” Maltese President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, wrote in a post on Facebook. “Daphne is not yet able to blog her, enjoy her children and grandchildren, be a potter in her garden or be with her loved ones. Today it is not justice, it is a small step ”.

“Daphne’s killers should never have been allowed to do what they did in the first place and the systemic failures that allowed her assassination must be dealt with effectively,” said Corinne Vella, sister of Caruana Galizia, in one e Saturday email to the Washington Post.

Caruana Galizia has worked as a journalist in Malta for more than 30 years, according to a foundation set up in her memory. You have directed a lifestyle magazine and a blog focusing on corruption called “Running Commentary”. Her aggressive reports of both government and opposition figures led to about 43 defamation lawsuits at the time of her death, many of which her family is still fighting.

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Caruana Galizia also received numerous threats of violence before her assassination. In 1995, her front door was doused with fuel and set on fire, and her dog – one of three killed in her lifetime – was left in front of her house with a slit throat. In 2006 she published an article on neo-Nazi groups in Malta, leading someone to set up a pile of tires behind her house and set them on fire.

“She was insulted and put under pressure every day. She was hated, “said Pauline Adès-Mével, spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who testified in the investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia and tried to support the journalist.” Unfortunately she was already targeted and not we have had time to put in place any protection or legal framework for her. ”

Caruana Galizia was 53 when she was killed near her home in a remote town in the north of Malta where she lived with her family for security reasons. The brutal nature of her murder shocked the European Union, where hits on journalists are rare. You have also spurred calls for reform in Malta, where journalists face an increasingly hostile climate.

Malta ranks 78 out of 180 countries in the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2022, 31 positions down from the time of Caruana Galizia’s death.

In September, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela, underlining his concerns about freedom of the press.

“Freedom of expression, including freedom of the media and the safety of journalists, is a prerequisite of any democratic society”, wrote the commissioner, adding that it is “necessary to comply with international standards”.

“We attach the utmost importance to holding accountable the people who commissioned and killed Ms. Caruana Galizia and to count our work to ensure that the environment in which journalists operate is free,” replied Abela.

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