The announcement came 21 months to the day after Caruana Galizia, a journalist who investigated corruption, was killed by a bomb placed under her car outside her home in Malta.
The three men – Vincent Muscat and Alfred and Georges Degiorgio – have been held for the past 19 months on suspicion of placing the bomb. They were arrested on 4 December 2017, seven weeks after her murder.
The announcement of a trial, the date of which is not yet known, came less than three weeks before the 20-month limit on a pre-trial detention that would have expired on 4 August. Thereafter the authorities would have had to release them on bail.
“We take note of the announcement of a trial but we point out that all those with any degree of involvement in preparing and executing this shocking murder must be identified and prosecuted," said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk.
“This murder’s masterminds are still at large 21 months later and this announcement will not serve to make press freedom defenders forget all the obstacles they have encountered in the search for truth about this case. An independent public inquiry is needed more urgently than ever.”
After the Maltese foreign minister’s announcement in London on 11 July that such an inquiry would be launched within three months, RSF expects the authorities keep their words.
Malta is ranked 77th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 30 places in the past two years.
On 26 June, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution condemning the serious rule of law failings in Malta, including the impunity surrounding Caruana Galizia’s assassination.