It’s outrageous that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has not dropped a libel suit against Daphne Caruana Galizia despite the fact that she was assassinated two years ago, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has warned.
“I think I was more than clear in my statement and my letter to Prime Minister Muscat where I asked him to drop posthumous cases that he’s still pursuing against Daphne even after her death, which I think is quite outrageous to put it mildly,” Dunja Mijatović told MEPS at the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee yesterday.
Muscat sued Caruana Galizia for libel in 2017 after she wrote that the mysterious Panama company Egrant belonged to his wife and that it had received large sums of money from a Dubai company belonging to Azerbaijan’s ruling family
He has repeatedly said that he will only drop the libel, now against the late journalist’s estate, if her family accept the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry into the company. The inquiry found no proof that Egrant belonged to the Muscats or that it had received the alleged large sums of money, and declared alleged declarations of trust handed in as having forged signatures. This document was handed to magistrate (now judge) Aaron Bugeja by Pierre Portelli, back then the editor-in-chief of The Malta Independent.
Caruana Galizia’s family has rejected Muscat’s offer, arguing that it will not succumb to extortion by public servants.
In her intervention, Mijatović said the journalist’s murder has shaken Europe and beyond but that she won’t comment on how the Maltese government is dealing with the investigation.
She also praised NGOs for keeping not letting this murder slip down the agenda.
“I’ll keep on working with them and the Maltese government to shed some light on this case and to ensure justice is served,” she said. “We owe this to Daphne, her family and all journalists around the world.”
Mijatović was responding to a question by Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola, who asked for her assessment of the government’s reaction to the assassination and what the European Parliament can do to ensure that impunity in member states is called to account.
“When I speak of these issues, Joseph Muscat’s government of Malta tries to paint it as some sort of party political issue, but perhaps they will listen to someone like you with no interest apart from truth and justice,” she said.