Malta blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia killed in auto bomb attack

Frederick Owens
October 17, 2017

Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was reportedly killed when the auto she was driving exploded shortly after she left her home in Bidnija, near Mosta.

She was also widely admired in Europe for her investigative reporting.

Malta's president, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm.

In a statement issued in the aftermath of the explosion, Muscat called the incident "barbaric" and said it "goes against civilization and dignity".

After a fraught general election this summer, political commentators had been fearing a return to the political violence that scarred Malta during the 1980s.

Speaking at a press conference, Muscat condemned the killing as a "barbaric" act and ordered security services to devote maximum resources to bringing those responsible to justice.

"Everyone knows that Caruana Galicia was a stern critic of politicians, as well as to me personally, but this barbaric act can not be justified", said Muscat.

A local TV station reported that the journalist had filed a police complaint this month about threats she had received.

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The explosion took place near her home in Bidnija at approximately 2:30 p.m., minutes after her last blog post was published. "I issue a €20k reward for information leading to the conviction of her killers". According to sources, one of her sons heard the blast from their home and rushed out to the scene.

European politicians expressed dismay at her death. The story first came to light in the Panama Papers scandal - a leak in April 2016 of more than 11 million documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The data was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with media partners around the world, including the Guardian, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington.

Malta has a population of 400,000 and is the European Union's smallest state.

Caruana Galizia alleged that Muscat's wife, Michelle, was the owner of a company in Panama and that vast sums of money had been transferred between the company and bank accounts in Azerbaijan. "Such incidents bring to mind Putin's Russian Federation, not the European Union".

Adrian Delia, leader of the opposition Nationalist Party, described the event on Twitter as "the collapse of democracy and freedom of expression". Four police commissioners have resigned under his leadership.

There have been several vehicle bomb killings in Malta during recent years.

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