Panama Papers journalist Daphne Caruana killed in car bomb explosion
Prominent investigative journalist-blogger of Europe's Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who accused the nation's government of corruption and fearlessly led Panama Papers investigation, has been killed in a car bomb attack near her Bidnija residence. Shortly after the 53-year-old left home, a powerful bomb blew the rental car she was driving into several pieces. Daphne, whose investigations focused on corruption, was called the "One-Woman WikiLeaks".
The Maltese Police have reportedly opened a murder inquiry. According to Malta Television's report, Daphne Caruana Galizia had registered a complaint with the police only two weeks ago, saying that she was receiving death threats. However, she had not provided any further information.
The journalist's death comes only four months after Malta PM Joseph Muscat's Labour Party won a premature election, triggered by Caruana Galizia's allegations linking Muscat and his wife to the Panama Papers scandal. Over the last two years, her investigation mostly focused on the scandal. She had also targeted several opposition leaders. In her last blog post, Daphne called Malta's political situation "desperate".
PM Muscat, who was accused of wrongdoing by Daphne, denounced her killing. He stated, "I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country." He said Daphne was a harsh critic of many, including himself, both politically and personally, but nothing justifies her murder. He added, "I will not rest before justice is done."
Maltese PM Office spokeswoman said although there are allegations that Daphne's murder was politically motivated, this would be "jumping to conclusions". According to reports, Malta has sought international help, including the US's FBI, to find Caruana Galizia's killer. Meanwhile, her family reportedly requested authorities to replace the magistrate conducting the investigation. The current magistrate had been criticized several times by Daphne.
Times of Malta's Herman Grech wrote: "Even her (Caruana Galizia) fiercest critics acknowledge she was an impeccable writer and investigative journalist. Her digital cross-investigation into the Panama Papers, which saw the Maltese government's top officials embroiled, effectively triggered off a premature general election last June."