Malta’s government is offering a €;1m reward and full protection for anyone with information on who killed an investigative reporter with a car bomb.
The government statement called the car bomb slaying of Daphne Caruana Galizia, whose reporting on corruption targeted the prime minister and other top figures on the southern Mediterranean island, a “case of extraordinary importance.”
It said it is offering the “unprecedented” reward to whoever comes forward with information leading to the identification of those responsible for the bombing, which stunned the tiny EU island nation.
Driven, demanding and judgmental, Ms Caruana Galizia – killed on Monday by a car bomb close to her home in northern Malta - was not a woman to hold back in her skewering of members of Malta’s elite.
The Politico website described her as “The Blogging Fury” and a “One-woman WikiLeaks” who used her blog Running Commentary to denounce cronyism within the police, bureaucracy and the political leadership of the European Union’s smallest member. “Alibaba will have no problem finding 40 thieves in Malta,” ran one typical headline.
Her reporting had a direct impact. Her sustained criticism of Joseph Muscat, the current prime minister, over his links to shell companies exposed by the so-called Panama Papers prompted him to call a general election to end uncertainty and preserve the island’s economy.
Mr Muscat has denounced the killing. “Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way,” said Mr Muscat.
The 51-year-old had previously reported threats made against her, according to local media. Burning tyres were left against the door of her house 11 years ago in an unsuccessful murder attempt, her former newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Her son Matthew, a journalist and a witness to the aftermath of the blast, worked as part of the international team that published the leaked documents. In an emotional Facebook post, he blamed the failure of the country’s institutions for the death of his mother.