News

December 4, 2019

Malta: RSF files complaint in France in connection with Maltese journalist’s murder

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and close relatives of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia filed a complaint yesterday with the French financial prosecutor’s office and the Paris public prosecutor asking them to investigate three leading Maltese citizens on suspicion of giving or taking bribes and complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The complaint filed by the lawyer Emmanuel Daoud on behalf of RSF and the Caruana Galizia family names Yorgen Fenech, a businessman now under arrest in Malta, Keith Schembri, who has just resigned as the prime minister’s chief of staff, and Konrad Mizzi, who has just resigned as tourism minister.

 

RSF and the Caruana Galizia family believe that Fenech used income from assets he owns in France to bribe these two Maltese politicians in order to get a lucrative state contract – which Caruana Galizia was investigating just before her death – and to pay those who planted the car bomb that killed Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017.

 

Caruana Galizia often wrote about Maltese political corruption on her “Running commentaries” blog and, in the course of investigating a public contract to build and operate a power station in Malta, she discovered the existence of a Dubai-based company called 17 Black that was being used for suspicious financial transfers.

 

After her death, a media collective continued her research and discovered that 17 Black belonged to Fenech, the owner of Electrogas Malta, the company that had just been awarded the contract to build and run this power station.

 

The journalists conducting this joint investigation, called the “Daphne Project,” then discovered emails between 17 Black and two Panama-based shell companies owned respectively by Mizzi and Schembri. The emails referred to money transfers of up to 2 million dollars for unspecified services. RSF and the Caruana Galizia family suspect that these transfers were used to pay these senior Maltese politicians for awarding this contract to Fenech, and that Caruana Galizia was murdered as a direct consequence of having drawn attention to this case of Maltese government corruption.

 

Fenech was finally arrested on 15 November as he was trying to flee Malta and has been charged with complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder. He reportedly named Schembri as the murder’s “real mastermind.”

 

Following these developments, RSF and the Caruana Galizia family, who were assisted by the lawyer Emmanuel Daoud, discovered that Fenech owned major assets in France, including the Evian-les­Bains Hilton Hotel. Fenech also owns a race-horse stable in France that yielded several hundred thousand euros in profits from January 2015 to December 2017.  In the light of these facts, the plaintiffs think the national financial prosecutor’s officer or the Paris public prosecutor should open a preliminary or full judicial investigation.

 

The murder of a journalist in a European Union country cannot go unpunished,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “As the assets in France of one of the probable masterminds may have been used to pay the perpetrators of this appalling crime, the French judicial authorities must investigate and help establish the truth.”

 

Malta is ranked 77th out of 180 countriesin RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 30 places in the past two years.