Malta activists demand new PM ensure justice for slain reporter

VALLETTA (AFP) – Just days after Robert Abela took office as Malta’s new Prime Minister, demonstrators insisted he seek justice for a murdered journalist in a case that forced his predecessor out.

Several hundred protesters, young and old, gathered in front of a makeshift memorial in Valletta to Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative reporter who was killed in a 2017 car bomb explosion.

Demonstrations have been held monthly in the same spot, but on Thursday was the first since Abela took over from Joseph Muscat, who resigned this week amid allegations he had hampered the murder probe to protect his allies.

“Clearly, Muscat was a barrier to justice. Let’s see if the present prime minister has the commitment to see this case through”, activist Manuel Delia told AFP.

“I hope we will have justice… That’s what we have been campaigning for for two and a half years”.

Three men are on trial for allegedly detonating the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia, while a fourth – powerful businessman Jorgen Fenech – was charged as an accomplice after being detained on his yacht. Fenech’s arrest last November sparked the resignation of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, who formerly served as Energy Minister, and Muscat’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.

Caruana Galizia, described as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”, had accused Mizzi and Schembri of corruption.

Activist group Occupy Justice called on Abela to clean up the investigation – which has been plagued by allegations of corruption – fire the police commissioner, and issue a public apology for the blogger’s death.

Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew told AFP he had little faith Abela was “the right sort of person” to achieve justice.

Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela and his wife walks in Valletta, Malta. PHOTO: AP