WATCH: Board of Inquiry says State should shoulder responsibility for assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

The Board of the Public Inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has concluded that whilst no evidence has resulted that the State had some role in the assassination of Caruana Galizia, the State should shoulder responsibility for her assassination.

The 437-page report says the State created an atmosphere of impunity, generated from the highest levels in the heart of the administration at Castille, and which spread like an octopus into other entities like regulatory institutions and the Police, leading to what it called the collapse of the rule of law.

The report adds that for this reason the State and entities which make it up did not see how it could recognise the immediate and real risk, including from third-party criminal behaviour, to the life of Daphne Caruana Galizia. It further stated that the State failed to take measures within the spread of its powers, which through reasonable judgement it had been expected to take in order to avoid this risk.

The Board composed of Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, Judge Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro, had been appointed in November 2019, following an agreement between the Government and the Caruana Galizia family to estabish, among others, whether the State was responsible for the murder of Caruana Galizia.

It is stated in the report that all evidence points to a conviction that the murder is intrinsically linked to Caruana Galizia’s investigative work, with allegations of irregularities and administrative abuses in the implementation of major development projects in which elements of major business were involved.

It said all evidence in hand revealed an extended culture of impunity not only in regard to senior officials in public administration including persons of trust but also in a restricted circle of politicians, businessmen and criminals.

The Board stated that steps need to be taken to control and regularise the links which have always existed between politics and big businessmen. It added that these found their best outlet in the Government’s declared politics since before 2013 that public administration should be business-friendly. The Board said it did not want to pass judgement on this policy, which in its words could be positive as long as it is not abused and applied strictly on the lines of applicable laws.

“Being business-friendly should never mean being money-friendly” the Board stated, whilst stressing that the public administration is obliged to safeguard the rule of law and should never allow greed for money and profit for businessmen or public officers to tarnish correctness and good governance.

The Board observed that when Caruana Galizia was murdered, she had been critical of public administration and the existing links with certain businessmen in the implementation of projects.

It further stated that this confrontation reached its peak after the publication of the Panama Papers and 17 Black, when the Board added it had become obvious that Caruana Galizia was privy to very sensitive information which could prejudice the plans of those taking unpermitted advantage of the projects in which they were involved, but also the Government’s stability.

The Board stated that the political reaction had been simply a sustained campaign of personal attacks and the tightening of a financial vice through legal means.

It added that at this time some State entities not only failed in their obligation to protect Daphne Caruana Galizia, but there were persons in State entities who acted in a manner that prejudiced her right to exercise her profession.

The board stated that both elements in political power and those in business had the same interest that Caruana Galizia’s writing be neutralised, clarifying however that there was no evidence of the involvement of public administration in the carrying out of the murder.

It further stated that instead, the campaign against her in a scenario of impunity created a climate so that those who wanted to eliminate her could do so with the least consequences. It said the plan led to the isolation of the journalist at a time when she was also the target of the former Leader of the Opposition.

In reference to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s writings in the wake of a draft F.I.A.U report which revealed an allegation of close links between business and persons in public administration, it was stated that: “For the Board, this was the moment when the need was concocted for Daphne Caruana Galizia to be controlled and silenced, not for political reasons but because she was coming out against powerful financial interests (…)”

The board refers to what it calls lethargic inactivity by institutions to avoid investigation of serious allegations of contraventions of criminal law and allegations of bad public administration.

The Board stressed is it satisfied from the evidence that this is a crime committed for money and on commission, and whoever carried it out had no personal interest in eliminating her.

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