Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: EU justice chief to press case during Malta visit

Věra Jourová says she will travel to island in coming months, piling pressure on authorities

The EU will put the Maltese authorities under renewed pressure to identify those behind the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia during a visit to the island by the bloc’s most senior justice official.

After calls from politicians across Europe for the widening of the police investigation into the journalist’s death, the European commissioner for justice, Věra Jourová, announced she would be travelling to Malta within weeks.

Daphne Caruana Galizia pictured in 2011.
Daphne Caruana Galizia pictured in 2011. Photograph: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

Three men are in custody and awaiting trial for planting and triggering the car bomb that killed Caruana Galizia near her home in the north of the island. The suspects have pleaded not guilty and there are heightened concerns over a lack of progress in identifying the attack’s masterminds.

At a press conference to announce EU proposals on the protection of whistleblowers, Jourová said she wanted to hear about progress in the investigation on a trip “in May or June”, during which she would also discuss with officials the country’s poor record on fighting money laundering.

Jourová said: “We need to see a strengthening of the financial intelligence unit in Malta. I want, of course, to inquire about the state of play in the investigation of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.”

One of Caruana Galizia’s final investigations was into a controversial Maltese government scheme that allows rich investors to acquire citizenship and visa-free access to the EU.

The European commission’s first vice president, Frans Timmermans, told reporters during a joint press conference with Jourová in Brussels that the EU had limited powers to block such schemes.

But, he added: “What is a European standard is that there should be a clear link between the country and the people who get the nationality. And I think this is an issue that could lead to debate, also with Malta. And the European commission won’t shy away from that debate.

“If you grant citizenship to someone, that person should have a link, a demonstrable link, to your country. I think that is a question that can be raised with the Maltese authorities when discussing the passport scheme.”

Malta is not the only EU member state offering individuals the right to settle for a payment.

In a letter to the commission on Monday, the German MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the largest party in the European parliament, said the EU needed to act in relation to the “disturbing revelations” reported by a global consortium of news outlets, including the Guardian, into Caruana Galizia’s murder.

“The people of Malta are looking to the EU for guidance and we must be able to respond,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Malta has become the first EU member state to be subjected to the scrutiny of a special rapporteur elected by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe to scrutinise the murder investigation.

Only two special rapporteurs have ever been appointed before on individual cases. Both related to political murders in Russia.


Daniel Boffey in Brussels and Stephanie Kirchgaessner

The GuardianTramp

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