Thousands of Maltese citizens took to the streets of Valletta, the small island nation’s capital, on October 22 to protest the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that occurred six days prior.
Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist famous for exposing the government’s links to the Panama Papers and accusing the government of creating a culture of impunity, died when her car exploded in north-central Malta. Her last blog post accused the prime minister’s chief of staff of corruption.
Her murder drew outrage and condemnation from opposition politicians, high-level EU officials, fellow journalists, and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Prime Minister Muscat said in a statement: “I condemn, without reservations, this barbaric attack… [and]will not rest until justice is delivered in this case.”
Protesters sang patriotic songs and carried flags emblazoned with the journalist’s words from her last blog post: “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”
Security officials observed the protests without interference while protesters yelled condemnations of the police and the government for their failure to protect Galizia or deal with widespread corruption in the nation.
Galizia’s family joined the protesters in demanding the resignation of Malta’s police commissioner, the Attorney General, and Prime Minister Muscat.
Prime Minister Muscat and opposition leader Adrian Delia, frequent recipients of Galizia’s criticism, abstained from the protest and the subsequent vigil, where protesters placed flowers at the foot of a makeshift memorial to Galizia opposite the law court building. Both politicians had libel suits filed against Galizia.
The nation’s seven national newspapers printed black front pages in Galizia’s memory following her murder, with bold letters against the black background saying, “The pen conquers fear.”
Maltese police invited the FBI and Dutch investigators to assist their efforts to uncover the criminals behind the car explosion.
Nonetheless, many citizens believe that those responsible for rigging Galizia’s car to explode will never be prosecuted.
Her murder and the subsequent protests further weaken Prime Minister Muscat’s government, which already suffered a serious blow when Galizia revealed its connections to the Panama Papers.