The police only met up with the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia three times since the journalist was assassinated two months ago and ignored their requests for protection and updates into the murder investigation, a damning letter from a London-based law firm has revealed.
Doughtry Street Chambers, which was contracted by the Caruana Galizias, revealed the late journalist’s three sons have chosen not to return to Malta permanently out of fear their safety may not be guaranteed and warned the manner of the investigations into their mother’s murder have placed Malta in “flagrant violation” of the European Convention of Human Rights. It warned the independence of the investigation has been thrown into doubt by the involvement of deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta in the investigation – despite the fact he is a board member of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), which Caruana Galizia had investigated substantially.
The law firm also rapped the Maltese police for failing to update the family about the investigation – forcing them to learn about developments in “grossly inappropriate ways”, such as from the press and Twitter accounts of politicians. In a letter circulated to the press, Doughty Chambers released extensive details of the Caruana Galizias’ communications with the police, which the family had originally wished to keep private but now want public “in light of the approach adopted by the authorities and the continuing failure to reply to their private correspondence”.
A forensic team combs the scene of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination
The correspondence reveals the police only met the Caruana Galizias three times since the assassination – including on the day of the murder, when police officers Kurt Zahra and Keith Arnaud came to the family home in Bidnija to ask questions.
On 2nd November, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sons Matthew and Andrew had a meeting with Inspector Nicholas Vella to complain about leaks from the investigation to the press – including about how a suspicious car had been spotted near the scene of the crime and how the police were following an Italy/Libya diesel smuggling racket in connection with the murder. Then, on 6th December, the late journalist’s husband Peter met with Kurt Zahra, who gave some forensic details about the bomb and how it was detonated.
The Caruana Galizias sent several emails to the police in this time period, but their requests for information were left unanswered.
On 31st October, Peter wrote to Inspector Vella expressing the family’s concerns as to their security. The letter sought assurance that they would all receive appropriate police protection, and asked for certain information, including the police’s threat assessment and details of what protection was in place.
The police never formally responded to this letter, although police commissioner Laurence Cutajar did phone Peter Caruana Galizia to tell him there was static police protection outside his home and later to invite him to a meeting in person on matters purely related to police protection. However, the family made it clear that they wanted some basic responses in writing to their concerns before any future meeting.
The Caruana Galizias wanted some basic details about the investigation before meeting police commissioner Laurence Cutajar
On 15th November, Matthew emailed Inspector Vella on the family’s behalf to note the lack of response to the letter sent on 31st October. In the email, the Caruana Galizias asked for the names and contact details of the officers handling the investigation and those responsible for providing protection to the family. No response to this email has been received.
The following day, Matthew again emailed Inspector Vella, both to reiterate the family’s wish for a response to their request and to complain about another leak from the investigation to the Times of Malta, this time leading to a story that the police had “drawn a blank” in relation to the suspicious vehicle near the scene. He called for an investigation into the source of these leaks so as to ensure the integrity of the investigation. He concluded as follows:
“Aside from our concern that the investigation is being sabotaged by the Malta Police Force itself, we as a family would appreciate the courtesy of being kept informed about our wife and mother’s investigation directly from the investigative team rather than leaked reports to the certain sections of the Maltese media.”
On 21st November, Matthew emailed Vella again – this time to file a criminal complaint against OPM Neville Gafa for stalking, due to Gafa having uploaded a Facebook photo of Daphne and Peter Caruana Galizia in Floriana a day before the assassination. No response to these communications has been received.
The Caruana Galizias have reported OPM official Neville Gafa to the police for stalking
On 23rd November, Matthew sent another email after more details of the investigation were leaked to the press. It read:
“It has been five weeks since the assassination. In this time, we, the family of the victim, have not received a single formal communication from the Police Force on any aspects of the investigation as well as on any measures envisaged for the protection of surviving family members.”
Again, no response to this email was received.
On 27th November, Peter emailed the police commissioner to remind him that Neville Gafa had himself been under investigation for illegally selling medical visas to Libyan nationals. He told the commissioner of the “likely links between Gafa and organised crime…and the certain links between organised crime and his wife’s murder.”
However, the police did not respond to this email either.
On the same day, Peter wrote to home affairs minister Michael Farrugia after the minister revealed in Parliament that the inquiring magistrate had access to “certain personal items which belonged to Daphne Caruana Galizia”.
Home affairs minister Michael Farrugia
Peter warned Farrugia his statement revealed to the perpetrators potentially crucial information about the progress of the investigation and that his action was in breach of the law.
Michael Farrugia responded by publishing Peter’s letter and making a public statement in which he claimed the information he had divulged in Parliament had already been in the public domain. The press statement accompanying the publication of the family’s letter was tweeted by Farrugia and retweeted by the Prime Minister.
Peter wrote back to Farrugia to rebut that the information was not public, and that any information which had been made public was due to unlawful police leaks.
“Our letter was sent to you privately, from the widower and children of an assassination victim to their country’s minister responsible for the police and ultimately the assassination investigation. We remind you that we are the widower and children of a person assassinated on your watch … and not our adversary, political or otherwise.”
On Facebook, Matthew Caruana Galizia warned Malta’s history is littered with a long list of unsolved political murders all resulting in complete impunity — such as Nardu Debono, Karin Grech, Raymond Caruana, Gaetano Romano, Terence Gialanze and possibly even German teenager Mike Mansholt.
“We will not allow our mother to be the next victim of a cover-up, on top of her murder,” he said.