The following is a joint statement by ARTICLE 19, the Association of European Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, IFEX, Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, Scottish PEN and Transparency International:
We, the undersigned organisations, urge European Union leaders to call on Prime Minister Muscat to guarantee that all investigations and legal proceedings related to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder are conducted efficiently, transparently and without any interference from any individual potentially implicated in the case.
Heads of State of EU countries will gather in Brussels tomorrow, 12 December, for the meeting of the European Council.
Recent developments in the investigation have shown that Prime Minister Muscat is inextricably linked to several suspects in the case. Yorgen Fenech, the former head of the Electrogas Malta energy company, has confessed to being a middleman in the murder but has accused the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri of ordering it. Fenech shares vested financial interests with Schembri as well as cabinet minister Konrad Mizzi through 17 Black – a shell company set up by Fenech to provide kickbacks to the two men.
Further information provided in court also indicates that other staff within the Prime Minister’s office may also be involved, including one of his former close protection officers.
In addition to these emerging allegations, Prime Minister Muscat has consistently placed himself at the centre of the investigation, acting as the main source of information in relation to its progress including whether pardons will be given to suspects in exchange for evidence. The Police Commissioner and Attorney General have been absent from communications with the public and press.
EU institutions have already expressed concern. On 3 December, the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová asked in a phone call with Maltese Justice Minister Owen Bonnici that the investigation be brought to a conclusion without any political interference.
A mission to Malta last week by Members of the European Parliament found that the Prime Minister “poses a risk, real or perceived, to [the] integrity of the murder investigation.” The mission also recommended that the European Commission “engage in a rule of law dialogue” with Malta with the hope of addressing concerns with the authorities – a step taken in advance of looking at possible infringement procedures.
Our organisations now call on European Union leaders to urge Prime Minister Muscat to guarantee that all investigations and legal proceedings will be conducted impartially, promptly and effectively, and without any involvement or influence at all from any individual potentially implicated in the case.