Daphne Caruana Galizia’s husband Peter stated that the abnormal was something very normal in their lives, but they never believed it would lead to murder.
Dr Caruana Galizia was giving evidence in Court at the start of the independent Public Inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which is being held before Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, the chairperson of the Board of Inquiry whose other two members are Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro.
Dr Caruana Galizia stated in evidence that his wife’s private life started becoming intolerable from the time of the 2013 electoral campaign.
Dr Caruana Galizia stated that the Labour Party had placed a photograph of Daphne Caruana Galizia on a billboard in Imsida, together with those of the then Prime Minister and Ministers, to convey a ‘friends of friends’ political message. The lawyer added that the Labour Party had instilled the idea his wife was being paid by the Nationalist Party in order to write against the Labour Party, but this was not the case.
Dr Caruana Galizia stated that as a result of that billboard, everyone recognised her on the streets, and they started reviling her and spitting at her. He mentioned a number of incidents about false reports some persons had made about her, in what he described as a campaign for people not to continue looking at his wife as a person, but as an object, adding that for this reason, it had become easier to attack her.
Dr Caruana Galizia stated that reviling included her being referred to as the witch of Bidnija (is-saħħara tal-Bidnija), which ironically had been used for the first time by Lino Cassar to describe how Daphne used to bewitch her readers with her choice of language. He added that the problem with his wife was that she was too good, and it was not the first time her blog got half a million hits.
Dr Caruana Galizia stated that a Taste Your Own Medicine blog had been created, as well as another blog penned by Glenn Bedingfield, who at the time was employed with the Office of the Prime Minister and was being paid out of public funds, whilst penning thousands of posts about Daphne during office hours. Dr Caruana Galizia added that they could hardly go anywhere as people would recognise them, take photographs of them and forward them for publication on these blogs.
Peter Caruana Galizia added that there then seems to have been a plan by many to institute libel cases and annoy her. Up to the day of her death she was facing over 40 libel cases. He added that she also started receiving communications from Henley & Partners, to the effect that they would institute libel proceedings against her abroad, and for this, they had the blessing of the Prime Minister, Minister Owen Bonnici, former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. Pilatus Bank, Dr Caruana Galizia added, had also instituted libel proceedings against her in the United States.
Peter Caruana Galizia stated that the VAT Department started digging into her affairs and every effort was made to try and stop her, and Police protection was withdrawn in 2013 when John Rizzo was removed from the post of Commissioner of Police.
Daphne’s husband referred in his testimony to the incident which had occurred during the feast of St Joseph in Rabat when the former Żurrieq Mayor Ignatius Farrugia and other persons who were with him started reviling her, and she had sought refuge in a friars’ convent. Peter Caruana Galizia added that in connection with this incident some persons had been arraigned and found guilty, but following an error at appeal stage by Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti, Ignatius Farrugia had been pardoned.
Peter Caruana Galizia added that when his wife had written about then Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera, she had started receiving numerous anonymous letters, and he had even found a pair of handcuffs in their letterbox, something which he had not disclosed to his wife until the day she died. He added that Magistrate Scerri Herrera had even instituted a Court case against his wife, but had then withdrawn it.
Dr Caruana Galizia further stated that had the country’s institutions taken the steps they should have taken on corruption when his wife had started writing about the Panama Papers and Electrogas, among other issues, his wife would still be alive today. He added that a sense of impunity had permeated instead, further stating that when he looks back, he realises there had been a continuous effort to silence her, and when she had published the story about Egrant, she had ended up being continually reviled and hared by people without their having even read what she had written.
In the final years they had also started calling her a hate blogger, so much so that when she was killed, people started saying she deserved it. Dr Caruana Galizia stated that Government had never issued any statement to stop this type of hate speech, and even mentioned a statement issued by Minister Owen Bonnici in which he had referred to Daphne Caruana Galizia as a hate blogger.
Prior to the evidence by Peter Caruana Galizia, his son Matthew had also testified. The Board will continue hearing evidence by the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia next week.