The son of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said the family is still suffering “relentless” smears and threats six months on from her death.
Speaking at an event in the House of Commons to mark half a year since the murder of his mother, Paul Caruana Galizia said: “We have had threats.
“We stayed in Malta until my mother’s funeral and then left because we were advised to,” he said, adding that a guard stands outside the family home in Malta 24 hours a day because the threats “continue”.
He has heard accusations that members of the family including Mr Caruana Galizia’s brother and father had a hand in the blogger’s assassination, he said.
At the event convened by Reporters Without Borders among other press freedom groups, Mr Caruana Galizia said it was shocking his mother, killed on October 16 when her Peugeot 108 was blown up, died “in broad daylight in an EU member state in 2017”.
But he said it did not come out of the blue. “There were three decades of really relentless harassment,” he said, detailing approaches by several people who came to him to warn him they were worried about his mother.
Mr Caruana Galizia voiced concerns about the investigation, which is headed by some of the people who were subjects of his mother’s investigations.
Three men have been charged with the journalist’s murder but, said Mr Caruana Galizia, “it’s obvious … that these three men were completely unknown to my mother.
“Obviously they’ve been sent by someone,” he concluded.
Ms Caruana Galizia was an outspoken journalist and blogger whose investigations went to the top of the Maltese government including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
She was a vocal critic of Malta’s so-called “golden visa” scheme in which anybody can buy a Maltese passport, giving them full access to the EU, for €650,000.
Shortly before her murder, the blogger led coverage into Maltese corruption as part of the Panama Papers.
Her work alleged that the Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat’s wife received $1 million from Azerbaijan’s president’s daughter, Leyla Aliyeva, through an offshore firm.
The scandal that followed, which focused on whether kickbacks were paid for visas in Malta, an EU member, rocked Mr Muscat’s government and resulted in a judicial inquiry.
There are still 34 civil cases open against Ms Caruana Galizia – most lodged by subjects of her stories – despite the fact she is now dead.
Writers including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan as well as feted investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova – who was herself imprisoned in her native Azerbaijan – penned a letter to the Guardian to mark six months since her murder.
Under the auspices of PEN International they wrote of their “profound concern” that “the very same Maltese government officials that she was investigating are in charge of the ongoing investigation into her murder”.
“Thankfully, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has taken the extraordinary step of sending a special rapporteur to scrutinise the investigation. But more needs to be done,” they wrote.