This is a documentary broadcast on German National TV last week. Below is a loose English translation of the transcript. I should point out that some details, particularly from the interviews in Malta and English have gone through translations in both directions so in places they may not be completely accurate.
“Murder on Malta – how corrupt is the island?”
Report: Ellen Trapp
Camera: Christoph Castor / Ralph Bemmann
Editor: Patrick Knappich
00:06 – 00:52
Her sons give her the last escort. At the beginning of November last year, Daphne Caruana Galizia was buried. She was Malta’s most famous journalist. Always fighting against corruption in her homeland. She was admired by many.
And she was murdered – killed by a car bomb. A crime that shocked the whole world. The fact that something like that happens in the middle of the EU has also caused horror in Brussels. Did the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia change Malta?
00: 53-01: 03
TITLE: MURDER IN MALTA – How corrupt is the island?
A film by Ellen Trapp
The smallest EU Member State is in the Mediterranean – just before Africa. A holiday paradise for the more than two million tourists, who come to Malta every year. The island has only about 340 000 inhabitants and their trust in the rule of law is not particularly great. For behind the picturesque façade of Malta many suspect a cradle of corruption. Pirate Island is what Malta is also called. But so far, hardly anyone has noticed this: the people have work, there is wealth.
01: 43-02: 12
The worst thing is that there are always serious cases of corruption and nobody is convicted. In Malta there are investigating magistrates, who then deliver reports to the police and the police make these reports disappear in the drawers. Over the last years, no high-ranking person has ever been convicted of either corruption or money laundering, and we just simply have a black hole for the rule of law in the single market.
Daphne Caruana Galizia knew that, and Manuel Delia knows that too. For months the blogger keeps going back to the crime scene. For months he’s been wondering: “Why did this happen? Who is behind it? ”
02: 34-03: 01
She was killed because she fought for the truth. She plunged into the dark secrets and abysses of the country. And somewhere there was a landmine on which she stepped, and it exploded. She did not know where it was and stepped on it at one point.
And because we drill exactly in the same place, we know that somewhere out there is the next landmine – only we do not know yet where it is.
03:01 Marsa, Malta –
Marsa is only a few kilometers away from Malta’s capital Valletta.
Here, Manuel’s search for clues begins. Because six weeks after Daphne’s death, there was a raid in the port of Marsa.
10 men were arrested. They are said to have killed the journalist.
The Maltese police had support from investigators from abroad. Thanks to their help, the arrests were made.
After a few days, seven of the 10 men were released. Three others were charged. Since 5 December they are in court.
Who are these men? What motive would they have had to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia?
The workers in the port are not particularly informative.
The port is not particularly large, they should know each other, Manuel thinks. He keeps trying.
Whether he was here on the day of the arrests, Manuel wants to know from this worker. No, the man answers. He did not know these guys, nor was he here on the day of the arrests.
The alleged perpetrators, this much Manuel knows by now, have been known to the police for years. They are supposedly members of organized crime, they also had explosives.
Manuel does not give up, he is lucky in this hall. This worker says that he too has never seen the suspects before. But he remembers the day of the arrests because he worked here. He tells Manuel about the helicopters circling over the harbor and the closed-off streets. In retrospect, he was glad that he did not know what happened a few meters from his workplace. He does not know if he would have dared to come to work.
In court details of the possible crime event were revealed.
06: 09-06: 40
The guy who pressed the trigger was sitting on a boat out at sea and detonated the bomb with an sms. After he detonated the bomb, he wrote to his girlfriend an sms “Buy a bottle of wine, baby” – he had done his job. And then he drove back to this spot, berthed and somewhere here he threw the phone into the water. The phone he used to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Manuel and Daphne Caruana Galizia have known each other for 25 years. Her death has completely changed his life.
The meticulousness with which the alleged perpetrators planned the murder horrifies him. The investigators have evaluated the cell phone connections.
07: 11-07: 50
The second person is at the scene and sees Daphne’s car driving down the street. Then she turns around, drives back home again because she forgot something for her errand – she had to get her checkbook. She drives back and he gives his buddy a sign, wait, she drives back. A few minutes later she leaves her home again and he gives the buddy a sign that she is on her way again. The guy on the boat sends an sms to a cell phone that the men have attached to her car as a detonator the night before at 2 o’clock. A small explosion comes from the detonator, Daphne realizes what happens, and immediately afterwards the whole car explodes.
This is the place where the men were arrested. Months later, still guarded by the police. In the past three and a half years alone, there have been 6 bombings in Malta.
08: 14-08: 41
This is also a shocking and difficult experience for me. Because I try to scour the ugly layers that have led to the death of a journalist. I think the men here have not seen it that way, for them it was just a target that was assigned to them and they blew that up. That seems to be it, the place where it all happened.
3 men from Malta’s underworld. If they really murdered the journalist, the question remains: why?
In Valletta, the three alleged perpetrators are in court. Nobody know yet, when the verdict will be handed down.
But perhaps the proceedings also provide clues to the motive of the suspects. Manuel visits Andrew Borg-Cardona. The lawyer closely follows the trial and the investigations. Not only has Andrew been friends with the Caruana Galizia couple for 40 years, but he’s also a fellow lawyer with Daphne’s husband Peter.
09: 41-10: 13
When you look at the big picture, nothing has changed. Daphne has never written about these three men, she has never had them on the radar, they have never been in areas Daphne was interested in, corruption or big dealings with the government. Really, all they have found, which is really very important, that they are arrested and convicted, if they are guilty, the three men are only part of the weapon, they are not the ones who really ignited the trigger.
10: 13-10: 30
Our search for the motive for the murder of Daphne began when we asked: who benefits from her death. That is where we started. Meanwhile, I believe that the search for the culprit should focus on Malta.
10: 30-12: 00
In the beginning, when the murder happened, we thought it was Azerbaijani criminals, the Chinese mafia, or the Italian mafia, the N’drangheta, for example. But if these three men who were arrested and charged are the perpetrators, on the operational side, as a trigger … and this is what it looks like so far, I believe that no foreign gang or decision maker would have selected these three guys for the execution. There may still be foreign elements, but I now believe that the decision makers or contractors for the murder of Daphne are more likely to have come here. It could be foreigners working in Malta or Maltese who have criminal, foreign contacts – we can talk about that. But I think the contractor comes from here, from the island. It would be child’s play to bring a few North African, Italian, Greek, whatever, Spanish criminals to Malta – they could have left Malta in a good half hour with a fast boat and they would never have been caught.
12:00 – 12:07
Who ordered the murder?
12: 07-12: 15
The real killer – no idea. Though I have ideas, but I will not tell you, because I do not have enough evidence.
In her last blog entry shortly before her death, Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote: There are crooks everywhere you look. The situation is desperate.
The murdered journalist made for many years serious allegations of corruption against politicians of all parties.
And Manuel wants to continue pursuing.
For years, Daphne tried to uncover secret connections between Maltese government employees, foreign banks and companies in tax havens. As a result, 47 lawsuits were filed against her and her bank accounts were frozen until her death. She was threatened, but she refused police protection until the end.
With her blog entry in the spring of 2017, she caused a stir internationally. At that time, Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported on possible off-shore accounts of current government members. Added to this is the accusation that, according to the Panama Papers, the wife of the prime minister also has such an account.
13: 38-13: 46
Daphne Caruana Galizia (May 2017):
A former bank employee had shown me documents she had found in the safe. Two documents.
These documents prove, according to Daphne Caruana Galizia, that Michelle Muscat has shares in the company Egrant.
This company appeared in the Panama Papers.
Another allegation: Michelle Muscat got money from Azerbaijan.
14: 05-14: 17
Michelle Muscat (20.04.2017):
This is a blatant lie about me and my family. I have nothing to add to what my husband the Prime Minister said. We will continue our work calmly.
Nothing has been proven to this day.
Joseph Muscat is a Social Democrat who won the election in 2013 with great success. Due to the allegations by Caruana Galicia, he had to call snap elections in June last year, but was confirmed by a majority of 55 percent in office. Joseph Muscat was not available for an interview. The request was unanswered.
Since Daphne’s death, Manuel blogs full-time. He comments on Maltese politics and does not mince words. To deal with the hatred that once hit Daphne and now hits him, is difficult for him.
15: 14-15: 50
The most painful thing I’m experiencing right now is the political rhetoric that I’m a traitor. Because I speak with you from German television, they say, I’m betraying my country, only because I want Malta to be a better place to live. I reject the accusation of betrayal, but yes, it hurts. I think that’s why Daphne died. Daphne could have written anything, novels, screenplays, she was a noble pen. The reason she was a blogger against corruption and for a good government is because she loved her country.
Manuel meets a comrade-in-arms, one who used to fight white-collar crime and corruption. Jonathan Ferris worked for years as a detective at the police headquarters. Then he was sacked.
16: 07-16: 23
For me, the Bureau was practically my second home. I spent so many hours here. It’s bitter, hard for me. As I said: I want to go back, I did not do anything wrong.
Jonathan Ferris believes that they dismissed him because he did not want high-ranking politicians to influence his investigation.
16: 35-17: 15
For example, we have seen a draft report concerning the procurement of an oil tanker in the south of the island. The report excerpts we have seen show that money was being deposited into a company account held by 17 Black in Dubai and transferred from there to politicians’ accounts. The report says so and documents these transfers. Seen from the outside – should not such evidence normally lead to an investigation?
17: 15-17: 16
17: 15-17: 19
But it did not happen. We have not heard anything about that since. The police did not do their job.
17: 19-17: 31
The police, but also the Attorney General’s Office did not do their job. The Attorney General has the power to investigate suspected cases under the Maltese Money Laundering Act.
Manuel Delia and Jonathan Ferris are convinced that there is enough evidence for investigation. But here all questions are open.
One thing the investigator is not tired of mentioning: Corruption has always been an issue in Malta.
17: 51-18: 22
Take my case, I know that I’m 100 percent right and they have wronged me. Therefore, I claim that they are corrupt. Down from the president. And I tell them that if they want, they can sue me for slander and initiate proceedings. Then the court will have no choice but to release me from my duty of secrecy, for I have the right to defend myself. And then I’ll throw everything I know in their faces. But they have no interest in doing so, because they know what I’d do to them then.
Jonathan Ferris provokes and is willing to risk everything to start an investigation.
The fact that many people in Malta simply accept corrupt machinations horrifies the men.
18:36 – 18:47
People here know what’s going on. Some are complacent, others are not very interested in it, as long as they are well. Some are very angry, but they are very afraid to talk openly.
Prime Minister Muscat, the two agree, created an atmosphere of fear and silence. That’s why people would not complain because they are doing well: Muscat creates jobs. There is wealth.
19: 02-19: 05
Would you, as it stands now, start investigating Joseph Muscat?
19: 05-19: 16
Of course I would do that. That does not mean that I want to judge him in advance. Because first you have to investigate, before it leads to proceedings.
This villa is the seat of Pilatus Bank. A small private bank that was opened in Malta only four years ago. Many Azerbaijanis have opened accounts here. Also Maltese government members are said to be among the customers. In the meantime, European banking supervision has also targeted Pilatus Bank. The suspicion: money laundering on a large scale.
19: 34-20: 00
Daphne has published that this is the place where the ruling family and seasoned Azerbaijani politicians have their accounts. They would launder money here. And then it came to light that there are also Maltese politicians who have their accounts here.
20: 00-20: 05
According to what Daphne Caruana Galizia’s documents reveal – yes.
For Jonathan Ferries, Pilatus Bank is just one of several banks in Malta whose practices are questionable.
20: 12-20: 15
It’s the one we know.
Jonathan Ferries wants to know if and how deeply the banks are actually involved in corrupt business.
20: 24-20: 26
I do not want to say all the banks, but …
20: 27-20: 39
It has become known that one of Muammar al Gaddafi’s sons has more than 90 million euro deposits in the bank of Valletta. That can be a useful fact for you.
20: 39-20: 47
I also already investigated when Muammar al Gaddafi himself had his accounts here.
20: 47-20: 50
So you know very well that it did not start yesterday.
20: 50-20: 52
That’s why I did not think aloud about Pilatus …
20: 52-21: 01
That’s true. This bank was founded for the Azerbaijani elite, which has hundreds of accounts here. Most of them are from Azerbaijan.
Jonathan Ferries hopes to be able to work as an investigator again someday. He wants to fight for it – in court, if need be.
His search leads Manuel to Marsaxlokk. A fishing village with around 4,000 inhabitants, where already years ago electricity and gas industry settled. For Daphne, this was a center of corruption. Manuel is not welcome here.
22: 06-22: 54
His argument is that I’ve paid you to come here and I’m a liar and just because I hate Joseph. Joseph is Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister. That’s what he wants to tell me with his screams. Of course I have a recognizable face, I’m sure he never read anything I wrote. But yes, it annoys them, because they know exactly what I’m talking about – I’m talking about the electric power plant, I talk about the cases of corruption, they know about it, but it’s a question of faith, a religion – and it’s unpatriotic to discuss this with you.
The gas tanker is berthed in Marsaxlokk. The gas comes from Azerbaijan.
23: 10-24: 15
Here are symbols of corruption. The power station behind me has been a point of contention since commissioning 20 or 25 years ago. The last action: contracts that the government has signed, they have sold part of the company to the Chinese, and then the negotiator on the Chinese side had off-shore accounts administered by the same firm founded off-shore accounts for the energy minister. There were contracts that have obliged the company to source energy from Azerbaijan for the next 18 years, at a price that has nothing to do with the usual market prices. Down there is also the huge gas tanker. There are reports that have been suppressed by the anti-money laundering authority, which is talking about bribes paid to the minister who negotiated the procurement. There is another deal with Azerbaijan to buy the gas. Lots of stories ….
24: 15-24: 21
These allegations have not been proven because they are not sufficiently investigated.
But the locals do not want to know about it.
24: 21-24: 49
It’s frustrating because it’s not about facts. You’re not just claiming facts and they’re talking for themselves. You’re competing with a culture, and that culture is resistant to arguments, logic, basic facts that are obvious. It’s a “I do not want to know” – yes, it’s frustrating, because it’s like talking to a rubber wall, you bounce off it.
Nevertheless, Manuel does not want to give up but continues to talk to the people. He wants that the people of Malta understand that those who are paying taxes and are not corrupt – are suffering from this corruption. That’s what drives him around.
25: 15-25: 41
I’m worried that people do not understand that corruption is not just making the few richer. It makes the masses poorer. This corruption means that you not only have to pay more taxes, but there is a backward development of the services they get. And if we go to the core of the rule of law, medical care – that’s really a big loss.
25:43 Location Gozo, Victoria
Only 30,000 people live in Gozo. The only hospital is in Victoria. Today it belongs to an American group. The government had sold it two years ago to an intermediate company, but pays up to this day for personnel and operating costs. For Manuel a dubious business.
He wants to know if the patients feel a change.
The man answers Manuel that they have made everything new. Manuel wants to know what exactly, but here he does not want to go into detail.
This man says he heard that they are building a new hospital. In fact, there is the excavation, but nothing has happened there for two years, replies Manuel.
There was also a recent medical strike because of the non-transparent ownership.
Before or after – no, for him there is no noticeable difference in the supply, this man explains to Manuel.
This man has made bad experiences. His family had ordered a patient transport, two hours before they had wanted to have the transport confirmed – in the end it had not arrived. The examination could not take place.
Manuel thinks the government has either bargained badly or someone has made a lot of money on the deal.
27: 33-27: 55
The deal was completed in a tax haven, the company that bought the hospitals, the owners, are hiding in the Virgin Islands, in places where we can not figure out who they are, who the true owners are. Incidentally, this was the deal that was completed on our behalf by Konrad Mizzi, John Dalli and Joseph Muscat.
At least that’s what Manuel Delia thinks.
Fact is John Dalli was EU Commissioner for Health in Brussels. The President of the Commission suggested that he should resign. Allegedly it was about a 60 million euros bribe associated with rewriting the European tobacco directive. Neither the EU nor Malta have ever brought light into the dark. He himself denies the allegations. Dalli returned to Malta when Muscat became prime minister. Then Dalli got from Muscat the job of the health consultant. He has nothing to do with the hospital deal, Dalli explains on demand.
Manuel meets Neil Falzon. He is the head of the NGO Aditus. Since 2009, they are investigating the rights of citizens. For years, Falzon denounced the lack of rule of law. His accusation: Malta’s politics dominate the authorities.
Manuel wants to talk to Neil about several hundred cases of corruption that have never been investigated in Malta.
29: 16-29: 23
After all you know, what you have been working on, the big question is: how corrupt is Malta?
29: 25-30: 23
Should I rate that from 1 to 10? I think Malta is extremely corrupt because much of it comes from how the government and institutions are regulated by law. On the other hand, I want to be fair and explain it anthroposophically. I think because we are a very, very small nation, it is difficult to be a corruption-free society. I believe it is the way our culture requires us to rely on each other. The fact that we are so close to family businesses, etc. – causes us to become or become somehow corrupt, how we live and work and operate with the political system. I do not want to say that we cannot fight that, we could do that. But yes, we are an extremely corrupt nation.
Since Daphne’s death, Manuel has become the point of contact for many informants who want to help him uncover the cases of corruption. They contact him from all around the world. Lately, also Transparency International from Russia. They give him names of Russian oligarchs who bought Maltese passports. It is suspected that they are transferring illegally obtained money to Malta to launder it.
30:50 Location Mgarr
One of them is said to live in Mgarr, in the north-west of Malta.
He has bought Maltese passports for himself and his family by purchasing a property, as demanded by law. Not a particularly attractive residential area – Manuel remarks – for an oligarch.
The road is quickly found, now the question is: Who knows the oligarch? If he lived here, the neighbors would have to know him. But this resident has at least never seen the Russian before.
Manuel finds the house, the mailbox broken and without a name.
He rings – but nobody is there. Also this resident of the house has never seen the Russian.
For Manuel, he is just one example of many.
32: 00-32: 22
There is definitely a deal we know about, three passes were sold to Russians, and the commission was transferred to an account held by the prime minister’s chief of staff at Pilatus Bank. Who knows how many deals we do not even know about … and the police does not investigate, they do not investigate the case, they do not do anything – it’s all corruption.
All this must finally stop. Manuel wants to fight for it – but the father of three knows the price is high.
32: 34-33: 02
I’m worried how this could affect my children. For example, at school. Fortunately, that has not happened yet. But I think the blog is worth it, somebody has to do it. The best way to encourage someone who wants to scare you is to be really afraid of him. Each of us is a bit scared, but you have to pretend not to be scared. You have to fight against it.
Malta’s capital Valletta. The women of #occupy justice have an important day ahead of them. The activists joined forces after the murder of Daphne. Manuel’s wife Clemence is one of them. They have organized demonstrations, spent nights in front of the prime minister’s office, they are relentlessly fighting a corrupt system, they say. Because they are convinced that there should not be a “carry on” after the murder of Daphne.
The women see that the rule of law is in danger and want to tell that to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. They asked him for an appointment, he agreed.
33: 56-34: 13
Philippa Gingell Littlejohn:
I’m afraid, I’m ashamed, I’m at a loss as to how it could get that far. I want a change, there cannot be a ‘carry on’, for my children, for myself, for the future of the country, and also for the economy.
34: 13-34: 42
Malta is a small island, everyone knows everything about everyone. What is happening right now is that those who raise their voices are in focus. Online and in person, that can be very nasty and disgusting, because the whole gossip circulates on the island and the people’s lives gets very unpleasant, not to say, the lives are ruined. That’s why people are scared of course. They are afraid of becoming such a target and therefore remain anonymous.
34: 42-34: 57
The Paradise Papers were recently released, condemning corruption around the world. The official reaction of our Prime Minister was, nothing is wrong here, we are a clean country. That was a topic in all newspapers worldwide … just not in Malta.
Only a few hundred people came to the demonstration of #occupyjustice women. Since the murder, they have often protested. There are only few demonstrations on the island. The women received a lot of encouragement for their actions, but only few wanted to publicly acknowledge that. Six of them are having a personal meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
35: 25-35: 42 ATMO Justice …
The Prime Minister faces his critics , this message should reach everyone in Malta. The atmosphere is cool and tense.
Philippa Gingell Littlejohn’s message to Joseph Muscat is clear.
35: 59-36: 47
Philippa Gingell Littlejohn:
We are here because the situation in our country is desperate. You may try to dismiss the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia as another murder, but it is not. In everyday life, they use their popularity to monitor all institutions. That’s not democratic, that’s autocratic. That’s exactly what happens in countries like Hungary or Turkey. You can no longer boast that Malta is a safe country. That Malta is a good place to raise children. And all that happened under your eyes, Mr. Prime Minister, YOU are ultimately responsible.
The women demand that the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner be dismissed. They believe that the two had ignored allegations of corruption, including against members of the government, did not initiate an investigation.
37: 08-37: 47
I’m convinced of everything I’ve said, or the government spokesman: There was such an unprecedented condemnation. Also in my speech in parliament or elsewhere: I never tried to lie in public. Mrs. Daphne Caruana Galizia was one of my sharpest critics. She also sharply criticized other people, but I can only speak for myself. Therefore, it is in my interest to uncover the invisible hand behind this crime.
The expectations of those who wait outside are great.
The success of the meeting, however, is limited. The women complain that the prime minister does not see a lack of rule of law. Everything is done, what needs to be done to solve the murder.
Manuel not only blogs, he also earns his living as a freelance journalist and writes for the Sunday Times of Malta. On such a small island, where everyone knows everyone, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to work investigative. Manuel feels that, as also does Mark Wood, the chief editor of the newspaper.
38: 38-39: 18
Mark Wood Sunday Times of Malta:
We feel insofar vulnerable that it is easy for a big company or even a small company to threaten us with lawsuits amounting to millions. Yes, there is vulnerability. I have to admit that. And when we talk about it, I also feel that there is some danger. This morning I went to an employee who is sitting in the newsroom and working on a story and I said to him: Watch out, be careful! Be careful where you go, where you meet. That did not exist before.
And this has to stop again, so Manuel is happy that he was invited to Strasbourg, to the European Parliament. There is a special session on the rule of law and freedom of the press in Malta.
39: 36-39: 54
I expect a moral sign to be set and it is set. I do not expect them to interfere, because that is actually our problem and we are committed to solving it. But I think the fact that they say they are worried is an important orientation for us.
In addition to the special session on the rule of law in Malta, he wants to personally explain to as many parliamentarians as possible which problems he thinks are particularly great in Malta. The interest in the special session is limited.
With Manuel also in Strasbourg: The three sons of the murdered journalist and her husband.
Manuel Delia meets Werner Langen. The German Christian Democrat leads the committee of the Panama Papers and finds the EU must act now.
40: 40-41: 31
First, you have the current contracts that have also been partially negotiated on accession, you have to check if they are still adequate. For example, tax relief for foreign investors, 25% refund. This is a story for the most deprived areas and Malta has not belonged to that for a while. Second, there is a need to pay more attention to the enforcement of European rules. It cannot be that Luxembourg and Malta have always together prevented everything in tax matters. That does not work, even until recently in the last few sessions. Luxembourg and Malta, the two smallest. And third, it must happen that Malta be put under constant observation and control on these issues. About this we are actually in agreement and there the EU Commission is required, which has so far overslept everything.
The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has shocked MEP Sven Giegold. He has been involved with Malta for more than two years and knows Manuel’s blog.
41: 44-42: 19
In Malta, there were strong reactions after the murder of Daphne Galizia, with the demand to find the murderers. But the real issue is not just to find the killers, but to draw the consequences of the scandals she has revealed. Of course, Daphne was not a saint. Not every one of her articles was a journalistic masterpiece. But she has made revelations that were extremely important in defending the rule of law in Malta. And we expect these investigations to have consequences.
Sven Giegold promises not to let go. In the fight against corruption in Malta.
Manuel is optimistic, also because EU parliamentarians today set a signal by officially naming the pressroom as Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A sign for the freedom of the press.
Of great importance to the family of the murdered journalist.
For the first time the widower speaks publicly.
42: 48-43: 04
Peter Caruana Galizia:
In recent months, my eldest son has been sued by the Prime Minister, the middle one was recalled from the diplomatic service and our dog has been poisoned. He survived only thanks to the care of my wife. And then the unbelievable happened.
For Peter Caruana Galizia his wife lives on in the three sons and the murder of her mother has made the three men strong to fight against corruption.
43: 33-43: 52 TEXT END
That’s what Manuel Delia wants. For him, the place where Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered is not just a place of mourning. It also gives him strength to continue his fight against corruption.