Here is the fifth and final installment of my detailed interview with Maria Efimova.
MD: With all that is happening in all this time, so, we have the visit to your father, then we have this new one with the old Cypriot employee, employer, we have the international arrest warrant, we have what you hear. Then something happens. Three months ago, you find out and I’d like to know how you find out, that Daphne Caruana Galizia is killed. My question, combining all of these things, is, you told me when you were in Malta and people were talking about you, and Malta Today outed your name, you weren’t scared, because you knew you were doing the right thing. But when all this started happening, the visit to your father, and all of that, and then ultimately three months ago Daphne Caruana Galizia is blown up in a car, was there a time when you could tell me ‘I was scared’?
ME: Look, when I still was in Malta, I paid attention that there are many cases with bombs. I remember myself I was passing by the, what is the area when you go to Valletta? Msida, Msida, yes, and I saw the car bombing with my own eyes, the car was blown up in Msida, just in the day, I mean it wasn’t even night time, it was day, and the road was closed, and I, it wasn’t the first time, I recall, I remember myself pointing attention in the news. I heard about bombs quite often, and when we were talking with Daphne I actually mentioned, I told her, ‘you should be careful because they put bombs here’. And she told me ‘ah no, they will not do it, what they do to me, put bombs to my car?’ she told something like that and, you know, I was aware, I didn’t have car myself, but I was quite careful when all this story broke, I never went outside, I was keeping an eye on my children all the time and my husband was careful as well. Literally we didn’t go that much outside of the house.
MD: But you were outside of the house when there was that car bomb explosion in Msida.
ME: Yes of course, I mean, I was working, I was going to work but apart from the necessary, going out or going to the restaurant or going to the club no.
MD: I understand that, I understand that, but my question to you is that moment when you saw that explosion coming up, you know, happening in Msida, in front of your eyes, was there a moment when you thought it could have been you?
ME: Yes, of course, I saw how easy it could happen and how careful I should be, but by that time I didn’t have any chance, I mean I didn’t have any option to leave Malta because I didn’t have any passport or something so I was trying
MD: But you certainly wanted to. You wanted to leave.
ME: Yes of course!
MD: You wanted to. OK, you wanted to leave, you were seeing car bombs, you were seeing what you were seeing. Tell me about other conversations you had with Daphne Caruana Galizia after this. So you told me you spoke to her and at one point you actually told her, or she told you, ‘what are they going to do, put a bomb in my car?’ That’s very poignant now with the benefit of hindsight. But tell me, what other conversations with Daphne Caruana Galizia did you have after that?
ME: We had quite a lot of conversations because she was investigating by herself as well, and she was checking some facts with me which have been related to Pilatus Bank so sometimes I was able to help her with the facts, you know, to put the facts in order. But we were mostly conversating about Pilatus Bank and its clients.
MD: Did you discuss the Maltese political scene? Did you discuss the elections, did you discuss the election result?
ME: I don’t remember now, I think yes, we have exchanged our opinions on election results but being a foreigner I didn’t want to comment on such things as election, I mean it’s not really my business what is going on….
MD: Fair enough.
ME: … in Malta with elections so I wasn’t really involved in that.
MD: How did you get the news that she was killed?
ME: I was, I’m following Maltese news on a daily basis so I just saw from the newspaper
MD: And what did you think when you saw that? Can you remember the day?
ME: Yes yes I remember, yeah, I learned on 16th of October and I was very sad, of course, I was very sad because I liked Daphne on a personal, I mean I liked her personality, it was, I was very pleased to talk to her, apart from her stories sometimes we were discussing usual stuff, like about children, about I don’t know, fashion, and normal usual stuff, and of course, I was really sad. Because when I left Malta, I was really hoping to meet her again, and now it will never happen, unfortunately.
MD: Were you more scared for yourself after you heard she had been killed?
ME: That time I just thought thanks God, thank you God that I left Malta because if I was staying there maybe I wouldn’t be that fortunate to be alive, and I received a call from my father, because he’s also now following Maltese news, and he saw it, and he was really worried about me, but what can I say? Of course I’m afraid! Of course, still, I’m not in Malta but I’m still very careful, I’m looking around when I’m outside.
MD: You spoke via video conference to European parliamentarians that were in Malta for an enquiry. Did they offer you any comfort for your safety, did they say ‘listen, we share your worry about your safety, maybe there’s something we can help you with’. Is there the possibility that as a whistleblower, in an unsafe context, you are protected rather than arrested?
ME: I myself made an application for political asylum in the country where I am, and I just asked from the Committee, the PANA Committee members, to provide me with a letter, a letter of opinion, so on their view I can be considered as a whistleblower, they confirmed it, so I filed this letter together with my application.
MD: How do you see the future? Do you think that the crimes that you have raised suspicion of, because ultimately what you did was, you reported suspicious transactions. Do you think there will be justice there? Do you think we’ll get to the bottom of what really happened?
ME: I hope, I definitely hope so, and I don’t think that all people who are making investigations on those matters are corrupted or they have conflict of interest, I think there will be a justice and I just wanted to tell all the people involved, I mean, Pilatus Bank employees, other involved persons, I just want to ask how much money they need, what they make that money for, why? I mean, as a result we have a murder, do that money deserve it? I mean, are they happy? Are they sleeping well at night?
MD: There was something you said there. Do you believe that there is a relationship between what you found out and what happened to you and the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia?
ME: I believe that there is a relation. Of course, it’s only my opinion but I strongly believe there is a relation between those facts.