An anti-corruption journalist who helped expose the island of Malta’s ties to offshore tax havens linked to the infamous Panama Papers has been killed in a car bombing.
On Oct. 16, Daphne Caruana Galizia had just left her home when the car bomb detonated. According to law enforcement, Caruana Galizia went to police two weeks ago to report that she was receiving death threats.
A relentless advocate for exposing the truth about corruption on the island, Caruana Galizia often wrote about Maltese politicians and other corrupt officials in her popular blog, Running Commentary. “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate,” she wrote in her last blog post, shortly before she was murdered.
One of the topics that Caruana Galizia covered in her writings was Malta’s link to the Panama Papers, leaked in 2016, which broadly laid bare the once-hidden connections to the shadowy world of shell companies, offshore tax shelters, and secret trusts. In her blog, Caruana Galizia wrote that the wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat—Malta’s energy minister and the government’s chief-of-staff—used secret offshore bank accounts in Panama to hide payments received from Azerbaijan’s ruling family. The couple has denied the allegations.
In response to Caruana Galizia’s death, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack.” He tweeted that, “This is a spiteful attack on a person and freedom of expression.”
“Everyone knows Ms. Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, as she was for others too,” Muscat said. He stressed, however, that there could be “no justification” for her murder. Muscat is asking for international assistance, including from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the investigation.
Former Maltese Home Affairs Minister Louis Galea called Caruana Galizia “one of Malta’s most important, visible, fearless journalists,” the BBC reported.
She is survived by her husband and three sons.