Matthew Caruana Galizia, the eldest son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has said he was punched in the face moments after his mother’s assassination by a local Bidnija businessman who had stopped by to take photos of the crime scene.
Speaking to journalist-blogger Manuel Delia, Matthew Caruana Galizia – a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist – recounted how the man had driven up in a silver SUV to his mother’s burning car while two policemen were trying to put out the flames, and used his smartphone to take photos of the crime scene.
The man then walked back to his car, started his engine and asked something to one of the policeman, who responded “It’s alright, it’s alright, my friend. You can leave, no problem.” (‘Orrajt, orrajt ħi. Tista’ tmur, m’hemmx problema’).
Matthew Caruana Galizia said he approached the policemen and told them the driver had taken photos of the crime scene, to which the driver denied the allegation and passed him his smartphone through the window.
Matthew Caruana Galizia said he was punched by construction company owner Mario Vella
“I smashed his phone on the ground to create a reason for the police to hold him and the screen cracked,” Caruana Galizia said. “The man got out of his car and punched me on my left cheek, right below my eye. He continued trying to assault me while the policemen tried to hold him back. They held him for about an hour then let him drive off, without searching his car”.
Matthew Caruana Galizia later identified this man as Mario Vella, the founder of local construction company Vella Brothers Tal-Bidnija. Lovin Malta called up Vella, but he hung up as soon as we identified ourselves. This website then messaged him to ask what he had been doing on the crime scene and how he responds to Matthew Caruana Galizia’s statement, but we have not yet received an answer.
“Mario Vella’s grandfather was known as “il-King tal-Bidnija” because nothing would happen here without his permission,” Matthew Caruana Galizia told Lovin Malta.
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister Corinne Vella published a picture on Facebook of Mario Vella’s SUV at the crime scene, without blurring out the number plates.
“He has known Daphne’s family for 25 years yet his first reaction to seeing her die in a fireball while her son ran around trying to rescue her was to take photos and give them to the media,” she said.
Matthew Caruana Galizia warned there is a criminal underworld in the quaint village of Bidnija, which he said reflects exactly how far crime has permeated Maltese society over the past few years.