Malta on Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of the car bomb slaying of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia with calls for justice, just two days after two key suspects reversed course and pleaded guilty to murder on the first day of their trial.
The archbishop of the small Mediterranean island nation, Charles Scicluna, celebrated a morning Mass in the small Bidnija church near where Caruana Galizia lived, making several references to the need for justice even when it makes the powerful uncomfortable.
“The question we have to answer, before complaining to God, is: are we doing our part,” Scicluna told the faithful. “Or is our silence, our complicity, our fear, preventing God from bringing justice?”
Caruana Galizia, who had written extensively on her website “Running Commentary” about suspected corruption in political and business circles in the EU nation, was killed Oct. 16, 2017, when a bomb placed under her car detonated as she was driving near her home. The murder shocked Europe and triggered angry protests in Malta.
A 2021 public inquiry report found that the Maltese state “has to bear responsibility” for the murder because of the culture of impunity that emanated from the highest levels of government. But as recently as last month, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights had decried the “lack of effective results in establishing accountability.”
When the trial opened Friday for brothers George Degiorgio, 59, and Alfred Degiorgio, 57, the alleged hitmen reversed their pleas and pled guilty to carrying out the murder and were sentenced to 40 years in prison apiece. The sentencing brought to three the number of people serving time, after Vincent Muscat pleaded guilty last year for his part in the murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The government and opposition both welcomed Friday’s sentencing as a step forward, but said full justice still needed to be delivered.