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Friday 28 February 2020

My mother’s murder: What you can do

Tortoise has just published the final episode of Paul Caruana Galizia’s four-part podcast series about the assassination of his mother. But the fight for justice continues

By Claudia Williams

“There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.” Those were the last words written by Daphne Caruana Galizia – just half an hour before she was assassinated near to her home in Bidnija, Malta. Because of her reporting on political and financial corruption, she was harassed, threatened by libel actions and chased by mobs. Her family’s dogs were killed and their house set on fire.

In October 2017, Daphne was killed by a car bomb.

Over the past few weeks, we have published a four-part podcast series by her son, and our colleague at Tortoise, Paul. My Mother’s Murder is a remarkable and gut-wrenching account of Daphne’s work, the scale of the corruption she uncovered, and the risks she endured to do so. It’s also a testament to her family’s unwavering pursuit of justice.

The full story of Daphne’s assassination is still being written, but the investigation into those who ordered it is picking up speed. Here’s what you can do to help.

Read Daphne’s work

Daphne launched her English language blog, Running Commentary, in 2008. The combination of investigative pieces, opinion articles and guest posts drove the country’s news cycle and laid bare its dark underworld – from organised crime to money laundering. The title of her first post, ‘Zero Tolerance for Corruption’, is itself a statement of intent.

Her reporting on the Panama Papers, a leak of confidential documents which revealed a global network of off-shore companies and tax havens, rocked Malta’s political elite. In February 2016, she hinted at what was to come for members of then-prime minister Muscat’s inner circle, writing: “Lots of things will fall into place and lots of other things will suddenly look very trivial indeed.” Her allegations led to a snap general election and anti-corruption protests. Read Daphne’s concerns ahead of the general election, which Muscat’s Labour Party won, here.

She did not just investigate the government. In 2017, Daphne alleged that Adrian Delia, then-frontrunner for leader of the oppposition Nationalist Party, had links to a London-based “prostitution racket”. He denied the accusation and sued her for libel. He is currently the Nationalist Party leader.

And about her

In April last year, Paul wrote a piece for Tortoise about his mother. Her death was reported as a catastrophe for Maltese democracy and the global fight for truth, but ‘Daphne’s Sons’ is a devastating reminder of the private grief left behind after such a public tragedy.

‘Will You Come Home Now?’ is an article written by Paul about his reluctant return to Malta in October 2019, 18 months after his mother’s funeral. It is a beautiful, but shattering, exploration of the power of place and memory.

In November, Paul and his producer Gary arrived in Malta to start work for My Mother’s Murder. Just hours after they landed, businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested by police investigating Daphne’s death while fleeing the country on his yacht. The one-off podcast Paul and Gary made as events unfolded around them is available on the Tortoise app and all podcast platforms.

A year after Daphne’s murder, Margaret Atwood wrote in the Guardian: “When a journalist is murdered, all of society suffers.” In the article, she calls for answers, a public inquiry into Daphne’s death, and highlights the continued and multiple threats faced by Daphne’s family.

Invicta: The Life and Work of Daphne Caruana Galizia is a collection of essays written by academics, journalists and friends of Daphne from Malta and around the world. It is a tribute to her life and courage, and a commemoration of her “significant contribution to democracy and to journalism”.


The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation was set up by Daphne’s family in the wake of her assassination. It is a non-profit, independent and non-governmental organisation that fights to ensure justice for Daphne and protect the rights of investigative journalists around the world. It raises money for lawyers, investigative work and campaigning, and is chaired by lawyer Peter Caruana Galizia, Daphne’s husband.

After Daphne’s death, 45 journalists from 18 media organisations in 15 different countries (including the New York Times, Le Monde and the Guardian) agreed to continue her work and investigate the circumstances of her assassination. The collaboration, called The Daphne Project, is led by Forbidden Stories, a network of journalists based in France dedicated to completing the legacy of imprisoned or murdered colleagues. You can support their work here. (This detailed special report by Reuters was produced in collaboration with The Daphne Project.)

The Shift News is Malta’s only truly independent investigative news site. It is dedicated to the defence of press freedom and is run completely on grants and donations. It was founded following Daphne’s death, continuing her legacy of fearless reporting, and is edited by Caroline Muscat.

Repubblika is a civil society NGO that aims to protect human rights and democracy in Malta. It was set up in Daphne’s memory and, as well as organising vigils and protests, brings forward legal challenges to maintain pressure on the investigations into her murder. You can donate money here.

Free speech NGOs and rights groups around the world have also campaigned on Daphne’s case. Any donation made to Reporters Without Borders, Article 19, Index on Censorship, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and PEN International helps to keep journalists safe and defend freedom of expression around the world.

Keep tabs on…

The investigation into the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia is ongoing. One way of staying up to date with developments is by following the work of Pieter Omtzigt, a Dutch MP and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), who was appointed Special Rapporteur on Daphne’s case and the rule of law crisis in Malta. The Omtzigt Report, which called for a public inquiry, was presented to PACE in June 2019 and adopted with overwhelming support.

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC is a human rights and civil liberties barrister, who heads the Doughty Street Chambers media defence panel. She leads the international legal team for Daphne’s family and shares regular updates on her Twitter page.

Paul Caruana Galizia is an editor at Tortoise and won New Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards in 2019. His brother Matthew is a Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist and software engineer, who is director of The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, and Andrew is a Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum. Both Paul and Andrew are on the council of The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation. All three share the latest information about their family’s fight for justice on Twitter and are writing a book about their mother.

Maltese journalists are closely following the public inquiry into Daphne’s murder and the criminal proceedings. International readers can find reports on the Times of Malta website and the digital publication LovinMalta.

Occupy Justice is a non-partisan Maltese movement led by women and founded after Daphne’s assassination. Members organise protests and monthly vigils, and the movement can be followed on Facebook or Twitter.

Bill Browder leads the Sergei Magnitsky Justice Campaign. In 2008, Magnitsky, then-Browder’s lawyer in Russia, was arrested after reporting multi-million dollar fraud by Russian tax officials. He died in police custody in 2009. Since then, Browder has campaigned to introduce “Magnitsky Laws” around the world, enabling sanctions against those suspected of human rights abuses. He has also supported the campaign for justice for Daphne.

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