Franco-German channel ARTE has tonight transmitted a documentary on the aftermath of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. I have worked with ARTE on this project that includes interviews with Jason Azzopardi, Jonathan Ferris, Philippa Gingell Littlejohn, Pia Zammit, Lizzie Eldridge, Andrew Borg Cardona, Simon Busuttil, Mark Wood, Werner Lange, Sven Giegold and my wife Clemence Dujardin.
The film is available in the original German, dubbed in French or subtitled in English or Polish. Click the settings button to switch between versions.
English transcript follows:
Manuel Delia and his wife Clemence often ask themselves: “How could it happen?” Here on this spot, the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by a car bomb. They knew each other for 25 years.
Manuel Delia (MD): “Why did she die? Because she had to be shut up. Why did she have to die? I refuse the question completely.”
Clemence Dujardin (CD): “I don’t know. I feel sad because, you know, I just imagine these boys looking by the window just behind us every day and seeing the site of, you know, where their mother was killed and they have been looking at it all the time. They have no way of escaping from it.”
MURDER ON THE ISLAND OF MALTA – How corrupt is the island?
MD: “This is when Daphne died. So, this is my readership of the blog, this is when Daphne died, here. It is a conversation, it is a dialogue. They are responding, there is a very healthy discussion going on on common boards all the time. And then –you know- people are sending information, are sending emails and suggesting things that need to be discussed.”
Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist and blogger, is murdered in broad daylight. As soon as she was leaving her home, the car bomb exploded after a few meters.
The 53-year old has been in the focus for years, because she has always been denouncing corruption and money laundering by politicians, and thus making international headlines. Shortly before her death she described the situation as “desperate”.
The Prime Minister calls the murder “a barbaric act”, and promises that the matter will be solved quickly and immediately. He asks the FBI for help.
How are the investigations going? To answer this question Manuel Delia is meeting the family lawyer of the slain journalist. Jason Azzopardi claims the investigations are sloppy. The enquiring magistrate has a conflict of interest, so he files for her substitution.
Jason Azzopardi (JA): “The remains of her body were left scattered on the field in five different places for more than 24hours. Why? Because – let´s just imagine — a few meters from the residence. So, when the husband and the sons went to their house at night, they just passed by the remains of her mother and wife. If this is not impersonal, if this is not revolting, if this is not disgusting, if this is not humiliating, I don’t know what is.”
Daphne Caruana Galizia had criticised this magistrate. The case ended in court. In any case, she was the sharpest critic of the government.
MD: “On one of the lawsuits that Daphne received from the Government Ministers very famously she had her bank accounts frozen. How is that developed, are they still frozen?”
JA: “Never anyone has frozen or rather has asked the Court to freeze on a precautionary basis the banks accounts of a journalist, practically driving her bankrupt.”
Malta: a population of almost 440,000, the smallest Member of the UE.
Two parties: the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, two camps dividing the population. Corruption and nepotism have always been present. This is not a question belonging to one party.
Around two million tourists visit Malta every year.
However, the island is a favourite destination for enterprises – they move their registration office over here. Malta is a tax haven – one of many in the UE.
Moreover, millionaires and billionaires come over from all over the world; they buy Maltese passports with their investments.
This has been going on for years, says Manuel. Even he was politically active. He worked for 13 years for the Christian Democrats, until they lost the 2013 elections against the Social Democrats. After that he was a project manager with a company.
Blogging: at first it was just a hobby. Yet, the connection between Maltese politics and corruption always interested him. Since Daphne’s death he has to earn his living as an independent journalist. He has lost his job as a project manager.
MD: “The owners of the business have a business that has nothing to do with politics, so – I understand – when they felt the hit coming on me with the reactions – for as long as I was blogging before Daphne died , it didn’t affect them at all. But after when the backlash started hitting and they could see there are, there is backlash and then at some point the Prime Minister actually spoke about my blog not in a nice way, he was asking for my blog to be condemned. They felt that it may have repercussions on the business which I completely understand because they didn’t ask for this, this is me. So, yes, we agreed that I leave.”
Since he has been blogging regularly, the father of three children feels there is growing hate. However, Daphne’s assassination spurs him on.
MD: “I worry about how my children might be affected, they may be affected at school; they haven’t yet, so that´s a good thing. But I think it is worth doing it. Someone has to do it. The best way to encourage people who are out to scare you, is to be scared of them. So I suppose everyone is a little scared but you have to pretend you are not. You have to fight back.”
Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported way back in spring about possible off-shore accounts of members of government of that time. Apart from that came Caruana Galizia’s accusation that the wife of the Prime Minister owned such an account.
Daphne Caruana Galizia (May 2017): “She (Bank assistant) had found some documents in the safe, two documents.”
According to Daphne Caruana Galizia, these documents prove that Michelle Muscat had shares in the company Egrant. This company emerges in the Panama Papers. Another accusation was that Michelle Muscat had received money from Azerbaijan.
Michelle Muscat (April 2017): “Gidba faħxija fuqi u fuq il-familja tiegħi. M’għandi xejn aktar x’inżid ma’ dak li qal il-prim ministru, ir-raġel tiegħi. U nkomplu għaddejjin bil-ħidma sfieqa tagħna.” (“A vicious lie on me and my family. I have nothing to add to what the Prime Minister, my husband, has said. And we continue our hard work.”)
Nothing has been proven so far.
Joseph Muscat belongs to the Social Democrats and won the 2013 elections with great success. Because of these accusations he had to call new elections in June of this year and was confirmed in office with a majority of 55 %.
Joseph Muscat was not available for an interview. The invitation remained unanswered.
However, the accusations remain, not only against the wife of the Prime Minister but also against members of the cabinet – for more than half a year.
One person who proceeded against criminals with regards to corruption is Jonathan Ferris. That’s why Manuel Delia wants to speak to him. Jonathan Ferris has worked for years in the Police Headquarters. Then he was dismissed.
Jonathan Ferris (JF): “I consider the General Headquarters like my second home. I spent countless hours over there so… It is sore, it is tough for me, but … as I told you I want to go back, I have done nothing wrong.”
Jonathan Ferris believes that they fired him because he would not allow high-ranking politicians exert influence on his investigations.
MD: “You have witnessed from the inside, political interference into police work. From the outside we see what you are saying now which is that cases that it is self-evident should be investigated but we have heard nothing about. Does that sum it up?”
JF: “Yes, 100%. And I intend to present these papers in Court.”
MD: “We have seen a draft report for example that investigates the procurement of the oil tanker down south. And the draft report says – from what we have seen- that money was paid into a bank account in Dubai 17 Black and from there into the accounts of politicians. That report says that. It actually has shown documentations about those transfers. Looking at that from outside: that evidence should’t – under normal circumstances – lead to investigations?”
MD: “It didn’t. We find no existence of that. The police failed to their job.”
JF: “Yes, yes and the Attorney General failed to do their job, because the AG has the power to investigate cases under the chapter 373 which is the money laundering law.”
Manuel Delia and Jonathan Ferris are convinced that there are enough indications for investigations. But even here all questions are open. Only one thing the investigator never gets tired of mentioning: corruption has always been a subject of discussion in Malta.
JF: “In my case I tell you 100% because I know that I am in the right. They have done me wrong. So for me they are all corrupted, from the President downwards and I tell them this, so if they want the file defamations and libel proceedings in which case the court will have no other options but to absolve me from my secrecy because I have the right to defend my own case and I will throw them what I have to their faces. But they have no intentions of doing it because I know what I am going to do to them.”
Jonathan Ferris is provocative and is prepared to risk everything in order to set the investigations going. The fact that corrupt machinations are taken as a matter of fact by the people in Malta is a disappointment for both men.
JF: “People know what is going on. So many of them are complacent, others –as long as they are ok, it doesn’t matter and there are others who are very angry but they are very afraid to speak out.”
Prime Minister Muscat has, they both agree, created an environment of fear and silence. That is why the people would not complain, as they are doing well: Muscat is creating jobs. There is prosperity.
JF: “First of all I am still covered by the secrecy clause but they have not given me the opportunity to start investigations on him. But notwithstanding this, from what I read from the papers, blogs, it seems that he is having his life. Because otherwise I would not object to a decree by the court of magistrates to have been investigated. I would object – which I did – if I am with my back against the wall. For me the police can come and take me right now – you know – I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to fear, I am an honest man.”
MD: “Would you now start an investigation into Joseph Muscat?”
JF: “Of course, for sure I will do that. I am not saying that I will go and get him and get a conviction because you have to make an investigation and then you go to court.”
The fact that Malta has a problem with corruption can also be seen here: the registered office of Pilatus Bank. In spring the bank caused quite a stir internationally.
MD: “So Daphne broke the news that this was the place where the Azerbaijani royal family –effectively– and senior politicians had their accounts, they were laundering money and then the news developed as well there were also people in Maltese politics with accounts here.”
JF: “According to the data filed by Daphne Caruana Galizia, yes.”
For Jonathan Ferris Pilatus Bank is just one of several banks in Malta whose practices are questionable.
JF: “The one we know of.”
Jonathan Ferris would like to know if the banks are actually involved in corrupt business and how deep these are.
JF: “I mean let me not say all banks but…”
MD: “BOV (Bank of Valletta) – we obviously know now – hold more than 90 million euro of deposits from one of the son of Muammar al Ghaddafi, that is allowing yourself to be taken advantage of because it benefits you.”
JF: “Yes, because I have investigated the accountant of Muammar Ghaddafi here in Malta, he was in Malta.”
MD: “So you know exactly that this hasn’t started yesterday.”
JF: “…that´s why I did not think aloud about Pilatus.”
MD: “Right. This Bank was set up in order, for the Azerbaijan leaders, because they have hundreds of accounts, most of them are Azerbaijani.”
For Manuel Delia these are not only assumptions. Jonathan Ferris hopes to be able to work as an investigator someday again. He will in any case fight for that – in front of a court, if necessary.
Since Daphne’s death Manuel’s and his wife Clemence’s life has changed completely. He has decided to continue Daphne’s fight against corruption with his blog. Since then criticism has increased and certainly not only from the political side. Both he and Jonathan Ferris are considered as traitors.
MD: “I admire him, I think he is really a hero and really, whatever he says, he should be careful and he should be protected. You saw, we met him, he was on his own. And I worried about him and Daphne worried about him. Today and other times we spoke, he said how she told him: ‘be careful’, ‘watch out’. She knew that –in here famous words- there are crooks everywhere, and crooks want you shut up if you are talking about them.”
Malta is doing well. The economy is growing, there is low unemployment. In the European Union there are other countries which clearly have more problems. More and more companies move their head offices to Malta, while the number of letter-box companies is increasing.
A small editorial meeting at a café.
Manuel Delia is meeting Mark Wood, Head Editor of the Sunday Times of Malta; Manuel has been writing regularly for this newspaper. Among journalists here in Malta there is only one topic: A colleague has been killed.
MD: “You are the last line of our defence, but you are vulnerable, you are vulnerable to this sort of pressure, you have managed to protect yourself from it, but there is clearly consistent attempt to swear you.”
Mark Wood: “So we feel vulnerable from this point of view, that it is easier for big cooperation or small cooperation to threaten us with multi millions euro suits. So, there is vulnerability, yes, I have to admit it. And I must say that if you talk about vulnerability it is now occurring to me that there might be some kind of dangers. I mean this morning I went up to a person who is in the newsroom who is working on a story and telling him, ‘listen, be careful, be careful where you go, be careful where you meet… you know… these sort of these things’. This didn’t exist before.”
Even Manuel’s wife Clemence is fighting against corruption along with her friends. After Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death they founded the movement #occupyjustice. Today they have an appointment with the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. The women claim that there is no more rule of law in Malta.
Philippa Gingell Littlejohn (PGL): “I am scared, ashamed. I am also perplexed as to how we have come to this. I want this to change. I don’t want to carry on for my children for myself for the future. This counts for the economy ultimately as well.”
Pia Zammit: “Malta is a small island, everybody knows everything about everyone and so, what is happening is that people who speak up have been targeted on line and personally and it can get nasty because the whole gossip start going around the island and people´s lives are very inconvenienced, not to use a word like ruined and so people are afraid, they are afraid they are going to be targeted, so they don’t show their faces.”
Lizzie Eldridge: “Paradise papers came out recently condemning corruption in many places all over the world and the official feedback from the Prime Minister was ‘there is nothing wrong here we are a clean country’. But it was all over the papers except here in Malta.”
The women of #occupyjustice demonstrate in front of the Government’s Palace. Here the prime minister has his office. Since the murder they have been protesting a lot, which is definitely not normal for Malta. Even if only six women are attending the meeting personally, they are aware they are backed by many.
The Prime Minister receives the women inside. The atmosphere is cool, yet tense.
Philippa Gingell Littlejohn’s words to Joseph Muscat are clear.
PGL: “Ninsabu hawn għax il-qagħda f’pajjiżna hi ddisprata. Wieħed jista jipprova jqis l-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia qisu kien omiċidju bħall-oħrajn, imma dan m’hux minnu. Kuljum qed tuża l-pożizzjoni tiegħek biex, effettivament, tikkontrolla ‘l-istituzzjonijiet. Dan m’hux aġir demokratiku. Dan hu aġir awtokratiku. Dan hu li qed jiġri f’pajjiżi oħra bħall-Ungerija u t-Turkija. M’għadniex nistgħu niftaħru li Malta pajjiż bla periklu. Li Malta post tajjeb fejn trabbi ‘l uliedek. Dan ġara kemm ilek hawn int. Prim Ministru, ultimament INT responsabbli.” (“We are here because the situation in our country is desperate. You may try to treat the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia as just another murder, but it is not. On a daily basis, you are using your popularity to control all institutions. This is not democratic. It is what is happening in countries such as Hungary and Turkey. We can no longer boast that Malta is a safe country. That Malta is a good place to bring up our children. And this has happened under your watch. Prime Minister, YOU are ultimately responsible.”)
The women demand the removal of the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner. The reason is that they believe both of them ignored accusations of corruption, that they do not start investigations. Yet joseph Muscat rejects these demands.
Joseph Muscat: “Naħseb konvint, li kull ħaġa li għidt jien u li qalu esponenti tal-gvern: kien hemm kundanna bla preċedent. Anke kif tkellimt jien fil-Parlament u f’postijiet oħra, publikament ma staħbejtx wara subgħajja. Is-sinjura Caruana Galizia kienet waħda mill- … anzi l-aktar persuna kritika tiegħi. U kienet kritika ta’ nies oħra. Imma jien fuqi nista’ nitkellem. U għalhekk hu fl-interess żgur tiegħi l-ewwel wieħed li l-id moħbija wara dan id-delitt jinstab.” (“I think I am convinced in everything I said and everything government spokesmen said: there was an unprecedented condemnation. Even how I spoke in Parliament and elsewhere, I publicly did not try to fudge. Mrs Caruana Galizia was one of – She was my harshest critic. She was critical of other people, but I can only speak for myself. It is therefore very much in my interest that the hidden hand behind this crime is uncovered.”)
After the meeting they claim that the Prime Minister is not acknowledging the failing rule of law. He states that everything will be done to solve the murder.
Saddened by the result of the meeting, the women of #occupyjustice are conscious of one thing for sure: their fight against corruption must go on.
3 November 2017: Funeral of the murdered journalist
Daphne Caruana Galizia was just 53 years old. In spite of strong currents caused by her critics she never let them silence her. She repeatedly denounced corruption. At the moment of her death 47 cases were still pending against her. In addition to this there are also frozen assets. Daphne Caruana Galizia leaves behind her three sons and her husband.
Manuel Delia has invited two men who knew Daphne for very different reasons. Andrew Borg Cardona works with Daphne’s husband Peter at a law firm. They have known each other for more than 30 years. And Simon Busuttil wanted to become prime minister; in summer he faced Joseph Muscat at the polls. But even he got to feel the anger of Daphne’s research work at times.
MD: “Was she simply too good to fit in the smallness of this island…”
Simon Busuttil (SB): “No, no, no because all we want is to live in a normal country and that was all she ever wanted here.”
Andrew Borg Cardona (ABC): “She held herself to the same standards that she held everybody else. There is no way she wouldn’t act with integrity. There is no way she wouldn’t act with integrity with truthfulness, I mean, in a funny way she wasn’t really special in that regard.”
They remember when Daphne Caruana Galizia published the Panama Papers in spring. Muscat came under fire from all sides, and he called for new elections; Simon Busuttil led the Christian Democrats against him, thinking himself already the winner.
MD: “The real shock in this that I see is that we are seeing this and this is what no one understands outside of Malta. The people of Malta confirm in the most emphatic manner the Labour Party Government.”
SB: “I lost the election in an unbelievable manner, because after four years of corruption you don’t expect to get the same result.”
ABC: “Worse….corruption now is at an industrial scale even more it is easier to be corrupted. Online corruption is so easy to create so many millions so quickly.”
Corruption has almost become normal in Malta, they say. And they claim that the EU is looking on idly.
SB: “I am disappointed. We as a people are disappointed also because when we joined the European Union we thought we are going to join the family of nations where high standards of fundamental freedoms, the rule of law would now become truly, truly guaranteed once and for all.”
ABC: “But to be honest – what can they do? Kick us out?”
The problems of Malta have become known to the European Union only after the publication of the Panama Papers. Yet Brussels has done nothing yet.
Will that change now? Manuel Delia is on the way to Strasbourg. The President of the European Parliament has invited him along with another three journalists. In the European Parliament there is a special session about the rule of law in Malta.
MD: “I expect that the moral example is set and it is being set. I do not expect interference because really it is our problems and we have the duty to solve them. But I think the fact that they make known their concern is a very important guide for us.”
Here in Strasbourg he wants to explain to as many Members as possible how big the problems in his homeland are.
However, first he attends the special session about the rule of law in Malta. The interest shown is evident. Daphne’s husband and three sons are also there.
Manuel Delia meets Werner Langen. The German Christian Democrat heads the Committee for Panama Papers and believes the EU must act now.
Werner Langen: “The current treaties, which have partly been negotiated during accession, have to be examined, it has to been seen if they are still adequate. For example, the tax reduction for foreign investors, a 25% refund. This is a possibility for especially disadvantaged regions, but Malta has not been such for a long time now. Secondly, we have to pay more attention to the implementation of European rules. We cannot have a situation whereby Luxemburg and Malta have always hindered everything in tax issues. That’s not right – even up to the last sessions: Luxemburg and Malta, the two smallest ones. And thirdly: It is a must that Malta has to be under constant observation. We all agree on that, and here we ask the Commission to take action, as until now it has completely ignored the situation.”
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder shocked Green MEP Sven Giegold. The German Member of Parliament is outraged that such a thing could happen in the EU.
Sven Giegold (SG): “Daphne was certainly not a sacred person, not each of her articles are the most honourable pieces of work of journalism but she made revelations which were really important in order to protect the rule of law in Malta and we expect that these findings are having a consequence.”
MD: “and they are not?”
SG: “At the moment they are not because I don’t see that anyone, any formal proceeding has been opened, there are some investigations by judges on some of the facts but many of these judges have strong conflict of interests and they are not really credible.”
Sven Giegold promised to continue fighting against corruption in Malta.
Whatever happens now, the Members of the European Parliament have sent a signal today: they are officially naming the Press Room Daphne Caruana Galizia. A sign for freedom of the press.
This is of great importance for the family of the assassinated journalist.
For the first time her widower is speaking in public.
Peter Caruana Galizia: “In the past few months alone, my eldest son was sued by the Prime Minister, my middle son was recalled from a diplomatic posting, and our family dog was poisoned and survived only thanks to my wife’s care. And then the unthinkable happened.”
Peter Caruana Galizia knows that his wife is living on in her children and in all those who fight corruption in Malta. Manuel Delia is one of them. He is looking ahead towards an uncertain future.