Magistrate to be taken off Daphne Caruana Galizia case in Malta
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regrets that Anthony Vella, the magistrate in charge of the investigation into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder in Malta, is to be removed from the case because of an unrequested promotion. RSF’s fears this will delay progress in the investigation.
The enquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a bomb placed under her car on 16 October 2017, is still ongoing and is far from completion. RSF has confirmed that Vella will be removed from the case very soon. The name of his successor is not yet known.
“The promotion of Anthony Vella, a magistrate who was determined to pursue this enquiry until the end, comes at the worse possible time for the case and threatens to delay the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder even more,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “As the authorities are supposed to provide all the resources needed to facilitate the proceedings, this promotion can only cast doubt on their real intentions.”
When the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk, Pauline Adès-Mével, met with Vella and his team in Malta on 17 April, he told her he was determined to personally complete the investigation and to bring those who masterminded Caruana Galizia’s murder to justice.
“The magistrate in charge of the investigation has clearly demonstrated his commitment to establishing the truth, as many people familiar with the case have confirmed,” Adès-Mével said.
Three suspects were arrested in December but none of the people involved in preparing and carrying out the murder have so far been identified and detained.
The investigation into this sensitive case began badly. The first magistrate to be assigned to the case was known for hostility towards Caruana Galizia. She quickly recused himself, making way for Vella to take over. Now, nearly eight months after the murder, a third magistrate will have to assimilate all of the case’s many elements.
Malta is ranked 65th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, 18 places lower than in the 2017 Index.