Panama Papers: Love for Daphne Caruana Galizia

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

In her blog, it is written “Daphne Caruana Galizia is a journalist working in Malta. If you have any information to contribute to Running Commentary, please email Daphne Caruana Galizia in complete confidence at [email protected].” Galizia was a Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist, who reported on political events in Malta. In particular, she focused on investigative reporting into government corruption, nepotism, patronage, allegations of money laundering, links between Malta’s online gambling industry and organised crime, Malta’s citizenship-by-investment scheme, and payments from the government of Azerbaijan. Caruana Galizia’s national and international reputation was built on her regular reporting of misconduct by Maltese politicians and politically exposed persons. For decades, she refused to give up on her reporting despite intimidation and threats, libels and other lawsuits. Caruana Galizia was arrested by the Malta Police Force on two occasions. On 16 October 2017, Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack close to her home, attracting widespread local and international reactions. In December 2017, three men were arrested in connection with her murder. In April 2018, a consortium of 45 international journalists published “The Daphne Project”, a collaboration to complete her investigative work.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was the first person to learn of the Panamanian companies before the Panama Papers leak of April 2016.

On 22 February, she hinted on Running Commentary that Maltese government minister Konrad Mizzi had connections with Panama and New Zealand.This compelled the minister to reveal the existence of a New Zealand-registered trust, two days later, which he claimed was set up to manage his family’s assets. On 25 February, Caruana Galizia revealed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, owned a similar trust in New Zealand which in turn held a Panama company.

The April 2016 leak confirmed that Mizzi owned the Panama company Hearnville Inc, and that Mizzi and Schembri had also opened another company, Tillgate Inc. The companies were also owned by the Orion Trust New Zealand Limited, which are the same trustees of Mizzi and Schembri’s New Zealand trusts, Rotorua and Haast respectively.

As the first person to break news of Mizzi’s and Schembri’s involvement in Panama, she was subsequently named by Politico as one of “28 people who are shaping, shaking and stirring Europe.

Politico described her as a “one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency and corruption in Malta. In 2017, she alleged that Egrant, another Panama company, was owned by Michelle Muscat, wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. These allegations are what ostensibly compelled Muscat to call the June 2017 general elections, which saw Muscat’s Labour Party return to power, though Caruana Galizia believed he had other motives.

Galizia still remain a name that inspired admiration and indignation in equal measure, albeit seldom in the same people.

The first—and the only!—significant breakthrough in the investigation, assisted by experts from the FBI, Europol, and the Finnish and Dutch security services, happened on December 4, 2017. “One of the biggest police operations in Maltese history” resulted in the arrest of ten seasoned criminals, three of whom stand accused of murder. Whether admitting it openly or not, many are convinced that the captives are mere executors contracted by a powerful third party whose name(s) still remain(s) unknown.

Certainly, these teens were the mere executors of the heinous crime. But, what about those who had hired them and instructed to assassin Galizia? We all know, Galizia had many enemies because of her investigative journalism and for exposing high-profile corruption and nepotism. There is lethargy from the investigating agencies as well as the government in really pushing the investigation in finally busting the entire ring of conspirators, planners, funders and patrons of this barbaric assassination. Possibly, one of the many reasons behind such lethargy is – should the investigation truly accomplishes the ultimate goal – many of the top brasses in the government will face legal consequences. But, that should not be the “justification” in letting the culprits hamper the investigation and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime under justice.

On the first anniversary of the tragic assassination of our fellow journalist Daphne Caruana Galizi, we in Blitz are expressing solidarity with everyone who is demanding justice and investigation into this case. We also are expressing our firm desire in publishing all of the materials released by The Daphne Project. By doing so, we want to join the force demanding justice into the murder of Galizi.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz. He can be reached at Facebook.

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