How Malta And The World Reacted To Last Night’s Birth Of The Daphne Project

Including a strong warning to Malta from an Azeri investigative journalist

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The Daphne Project kicked off yesterday - a five month investigation by journalists from 18 news houses around the world into the work and assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Yesterday’s main revelations include how the police have not interviewed any politicians in connection with the assassination, how economy minister Chris Cardona had been sighted at a Siggiewi bar with one of the three murder suspects, and how Caruana Galizia’s family is refusing to hand over the journalist’s laptop for investigation due to their mistrust in the police.

These are some of the reactions from last night’s revelations. 

Adrian Delia came out swinging 

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Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia led a parliamentary walk-out and, at a press conference later, warned that a “culture of fear and silence” has permeated into Malta. Delia also backed Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew’s call for the police to seize the laptop and the private email server of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat so as to investigate any potential role he might have had in the murder.

“We must know whether or not the Prime Minister was involved and if so why he remained silent. And if he wasn’t, why it is that he was not informed,” Delia said. “Is it or is it not true that the state knew what was going to happen?”

The Labour Party hit out at Adrian Delia

Joseph Muscat didn’t personally react to the Daphne Project, but the Labour Party turned the tables on Delia, who it claimed only spoke last night to appease his internal critics.

“There are ongoing investigations into several stories that Caruana Galizia wrote about, but not the ones she had written about Adrian Delia because he had withdrawn his libel cases against her and refused to call a magisterial inquiry despite the allegations being about prostitution, drugs and money laundering,” Labour said. “All this shows that he is the one who has most to answer for.”

And the Partit Demokratiku hit out at everyone 

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Partit Demokratiku leader Anthony Buttigieg called for everyone Daphne Caruana Galizia had written about, from tourism minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri to Adrian Delia himself to instantly resign. 

"Over the next few days and weeks more of what the Daphne Project has dug up will be revealed. As it is, the name of Malta will remain in the spotlight of the world's media for all the wrong reasons," Buttigieg said. "Our already tarnished reputation will be ruined further. The result will be an ever increasing possibility of harm to our economy and our children's future. It is time the implicated people, for the good of the country, took a feather out of Slovakia' s cap. It is time they do the decent thing. Go.

European People’s Party pledges continuous pressure

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Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP) which includes the PN, said it is scandalous how “sluggishly” the police investigation into Caruana Galizia’s murder is proceeding. 

“Further international and European pressure on the Maltese government is needed. We will not let this go,” he said. 

Socialist MEP Ana Gomes asked whether the police have questioned Cardona on his alleged drink at a bar with murder suspect Alfred Degiorgio, while the Greens political group in the EP tweeted that "whoever killed the messenger won't kill the message”. 

The UN’s rapporteur on freedom of expression had this to say

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Maltese activists left a message to Chris Cardona on his ministry door

And cartoonists had some fun

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Cartoon by Gorg Mallia 

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Cartoon re-shared for the occasion by Seb Tanti Burlo 

Journalists around the world praised the project 

The Daphne Project was welcomed by several journalists across the world as a prime example of collaboration between news houses. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) urged journalists around the world to stand together to protect each other and safeguard the truth, while Bastian Obermayer - who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the Panama Papers - co-wrote an article about Caruana Galizia in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. 

“Co-operation instead of competition on this important topic,” he said. 

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The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said the Daphne Project will ensure Caruana Galizia’s investigative work lives on, while Dei Zeit investigative journalist Holger Stark described it as one of the most important stories he’s ever worked on.

The European Federation of Journalists quoted a heartfelt line from Paul Caruana Galizia’s interview to The Guardian about his late mother: “She was fighting to hold Malta and Maltese society to a higher standard, to really get people in the country to expect more. Expect more of their government, expect more of their politicians”

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Holger Stark

And an Azeri journalist delivered a powerful warning to Malta 

Azeri investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova urged the Maltese public not to let their country slip into autocracy.

“Azerbaijan is not part of EU and our government uses number of excuses for the mess we are in, including the war and our Soviet past,” she said. “All of their excuses are lame, but still, people of my country say "this is Azerbaijan, dude" to explain everything that is wrong. Most of the people feel like it is normal to be corrupt, liar, sycophant, thief, it is normal if journalist is arrested or killed, or beaten. It is normal when elections are rigged, it is normal if the oligarchy enjoys impunity. Too close to Middle East, part of the "-stan" geography... We have lost the war and out loser syndrome doesn't help to feel empowered enough to change things.

“But what is the excuse of the Maltese corrupt regime? Malta is a part of EU. It supposed to be democratic, enjoy rule of law and accountability, up to EU standards. When corruption facts are uncovered, the government is supposed to be embarrassed and someone should resign, justice served just like in European democracies. Why not, Malta?

“It should be heartbreaking for Maltese citizens to find out that their expectations from their own country were too high. Daphne's writings made me feel that she resisted disappointment. She kept demanding accountability and didn't seem to accept lame arguments of government as an answer.

“That bomb was aimed at exploding her expectations together with herself. The government that blatantly continues to prevent justice in corruption cases and Daphne's murder case, gives a clear message to their people: "This is Malta, dude”. I feel sorry for Malta's dreamers.”

What would you like The Daphne Project to investigate further? 

READ NEXT: WATCH: The Mother, The Wife And The Journalist: Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Family Interviewed For The First Time

Written By

Tim Diacono

Tim Diacono tends to clam up when asked to describe himself. You can contact him on timdiacono@lovinmalta.com

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