The family of an anti-corruption reporter who was killed in a car bombing a week ago have appeared in court in Malta for a libel case against her.
The husband and three sons of Daphne Caruana Galizia attended yesterday’s hearing in a libel case brought by Malta’s economy minister after the reporter alleged he had been to a brothel in Germany while on government business earlier this year.
The minister, Chris Cardona, who was not in court, has denied the allegation and filed the libel suit.
The case was postponed.
Defamation cases in Malta do not end after a person’s death but are passed on to heirs, meaning that Caruana Galizia’s family risks a fine as high as 11,000 euros (£9,800) if the ruling goes against her.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the Maltese government offered an “unprecedented” €1m reward and full protection for anyone with information on who killed Caruana Galizia.
The government statement called the car bombing, on 16 October, a “case of extraordinary importance”, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reported, and said it was “fully committed to solving the murder … (and) bringing those responsible to justice.”
The Maltese government offered a reward in a bank heist case a few years ago, but this was believed to be the first time it has posted a reward in a murder case.
In the past ten years, there have been 15 Mafia-style bombings or similar attacks in Malta, and many of the crimes have gone unsolved.
Top European Union officials have denounced Caruana Galizia’s killing as an attack on journalistic freedom and insisted that rule of law prevail in the tiny member nation.
The blast, which blew up the car Caruana Galizia was driving not far from her home, stunned the island’s citizens, who eagerly followed her blog on corruption to see which business, financial or political figures were the latest in her sights.
Her husband and her three sons – including one, Matthew, who is an investigative journalist himself – did not immediately comment on the government’s move.
But earlier in the week, the family said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had asked for their “endorsement” for offering a reward.
They said “this is how he can get it: show political responsibility and resign … for failing to uphold our fundamental freedoms” to the point where their mother “no longer felt safe walking down the street”.
They also called on the government to replace the top police commissioner and the attorney general so “then we won’t need a million-euro reward and our mother wouldn’t have died in vain”.
Caruana Galizia had dug out Maltese links to the Panama Papers leaks, writing, among other articles, that Muscat’s wife had an offshore account that was used to move money from high-level Azerbaijan figures.
The Muscats denied having such an account and any wrongdoing.
Several other top officials, including a minister and Muscat’s chief-of-staff, had launched libel suits against Caruana Galizia.
Picture: PA/AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud