The decision of the Greek Supreme Court to refuse Malta’s request for the extradition of Maria Efimova is very, very significant. It is extremely rare for an EU Member State not to trust another Member State with the safety of a person accused of crime. Although this obviously was a judicial decision, its political ramifications are massive and must be underlined.
Malta has effectively stepped outside the European space where rule of law works and where the institutions of the state can be trusted to respect the law and treat people fairly. We have known this for a long time now. Read all the stories of police and state harassment against Daphne Caruana Galizia when she was alive. How she faced arrest for writing. How the prime minister colluded with big business to ruin her financially. How her bank accounts were frozen by a government minister’s action.
And after her death we knew how her sources were hounded, her memory suppressed, her work mocked, and justice for her denied.
Activists were outside the gates of the police head-quarters less than a week after she was killed. Too long a wait to be fair. The Police Minister and the Police Chief should have resigned the same day of her killing at best for neglect and failure to protect her and thereby our democracy.
The Greek Supreme Court must have seen all this from afar and took a cool decision that Malta’s institutions cannot be trusted with the safety of a woman who testified to so many crimes including of her former boss now awaiting trial for massive bank fraud and of course of the prime minister himself.
Yesterday my colleagues in civil society activism and I wanted to thank people who helped raise awareness of Maria Efimova’s plight.
Thanks go to David Casa and Stelios Kouloglou, who took up her cause and testified in front of the Greek Courts and worked with Greek officials. They were backed up by Ana Gomes, Sven Giegold and other MEPs who have been working to help keep awareness of the state of affairs in Malta.
Personally I must acknowledge the journalistic work of my colleague in Cyprus Stelios Orphanides who investigated the wild allegations published in the Cypriot Press when those hunting Maria Efimova were trying to smoke her out of hiding with lies and slander. He found the accusations to by baseless, reported that and filed a complaint to the Cyprus Media Complaints Commission that found the reports to have been motivated by people wanting to reduce her credibility as a witness to crimes in Malta. What contrast with our very own Brian Hansford that repeated the lies as if they were fact, if he did not invent them himself.
Thanks should go to international press NGOs that understood the danger to a whistle-blower in a context of the sort of abuse of press freedoms we are suffering from here. PEN International, Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists who raised awareness of the case of Maria Efimova.
And as activists our thanks also go to donors here in Malta who contributed in part to the massive legal fees Maria Efimova had to face merely to defend her right to life, her right to safety and her right to freedom.
Here’s a Newsbook report of yesterday’s press conference that includes a video (in Maltese) of the event.