Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

Malta: EU’s Ursula von der Leyen demands probe into journalist’s slaying

The crisis in Malta over the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has become a serious test for the EU

eU Commission President-designate Ursula Von der Leyen is pictured before a meeting with incoming President of the EU Council Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium Reuters  
eU Commission President-designate Ursula Von der Leyen is pictured before a meeting with incoming President of the EU Council Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium Reuters  

The new head of the European Union commission Ursula von der Leyen has demanded a “thorough and independent” probe into the 2017 killing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

On only her fourth day on the job in Brussels, Ms von der Leyen said she expected an investigation “free from any political interference".

"It is crucial that all those responsible are put to justice as soon as possible," she explained, referring to Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder in a car bomb near her home.

The 53-year-old had reported on corruption at the highest levels in Malta politics and economy and had received threats shortly before her death.

In a breakthrough in the investigation into the killing, prominent Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech has been charged with orchestrating the murder. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges in court.

The case has shaken the Maltese political establishment to its core with thousands of protesters in Valetta, the island nation’s capital, demonstrating over perceived government complicity in the killing.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced he would step down but delays in his departure have reignited the protests against him.

Two EU delegations have travelled to Malta and raised questions over the police handling of the murder investigation and the government’s credibility in the wake of the murder.

As the case against Mr Fenech continues, a court in Malta has heard testimony from a taxi driver that the businessman and hotelier was the sole mastermind of the plot to kill Ms Caruana Galizia.

Updated: December 4, 2019 08:09 PM

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