Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has agreed to meet the family of murdered investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to discuss their concerns over an independent inquiry into her death, according to a government spokesman.
Muscat will meet Caruana Galizia’s family once he returns from a United Nations summit in New York, the spokesman told AFP news agency on Saturday.
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On Friday, days before the expiry of a deadline by Europe’s main human rights watchdog, Muscat appointed an inquiry team comprising of retired Judge Michael Mallia, lawyer and constitutional law expert Ian Refalo and a former forensics expert Anthony Abela Medici.
The Maltese government said the inquiry should conclude its work within nine months
But Caruana Galizia’s family said on Saturday they were unhappy with the team the prime minister appointed and requested a meeting with Muscat.
“Serious problems with regard to the members of the Board of Inquiry announced last night,” Andrew Caruana Galizia, her son, said on Twitter.
“One represents clients my mother investigated for money laundering. Another depends on the prime minister for his livelihood. These clear conflicts will poison the inquiry’s work,” he added.
Caruana Galizia, who wrote a popular anti-corruption blog, was killed by a powerful car bomb blast outside her home on October 16, 2017.
Muscat, a frequent target of Caruana Galizia’s writings, has offered a reward of one million euros ($1.1m) for information leading to the arrest of those behind the journalist’s killing.
Caruana Galizia published accusations of corruption, money laundering and influence peddling by people at the highest levels of Maltese society, all of which they denied.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a press freedom watchdog, said the government’s move was “long overdue” and called for the inquiry board to be impartial.
“The establishment of a public inquiry is long overdue, and is an essential step towards justice for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” Rebecca Vincent, RSF’s UK director, said in a statement.
“But a public inquiry that lacks independence and impartiality will fool no one – and the goal remains full justice for this heinous assassination,” Vincent added.
The Council of Europe, the leading human rights forum, said in June that the failure to identify who was behind the killing raised questions about the rule of law in Malta.
It gave Maltese authorities until September 26 to start a public inquiry aimed at establishing whether the journalist’s death could have been prevented.
Three men have been under arrest since December 2017 and are due to stand trial for the murder. However, police are continuing their investigations to try and find out who ordered the killing and why.