London’s Financial Times and The Guardian have commented editorially on the car bomb murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia as the tragedy continues to make the headlines around the world.

The Financial Times said the killing on Monday was a criminal outrage.

“It is also a direct assault, at the heart of Europe, on the EU’s founding values — freedom of expression and the rule of law.”

“Whatever the failings of Malta’s political class, they are not in the habit of hiring hitmen to silence opponents. But the rule of law is under strain. There have been several other car bombings in recent months. The authorities need to prove now that this kind of transgression will not be allowed to pass with impunity,” the newspaper says.

“Prime minister Joseph Muscat’s swift condemnation of the attack is welcome, as is his confirmation that Malta will be accepting offers of help from the US FBI and from Dutch forensic experts. It is clear that Malta will need outside expertise both to bolster its own limited resources and to ensure that the investigation is truly independent.

“However, Mr Muscat, who contested Caruana Galizia’s allegations against him, must also take responsibility for the climate in which the killing took place.

Mr Muscat, who contested Caruana Galizia’s allegations against him, must also take responsibility for the climate in which the killing took place.- Financial Times

"Malta has long made it easy for foreign companies to register subsidiaries and qualify for very low tax rates. It has overseen an enormous expansion of the online gambling industry. Despite criticism from Brussels, it has persisted with a 'cash for passports scheme' that allows rich individuals, in effect, to buy access to the EU. The result is an economy heavily reliant on wealthy outsiders, in which the authorities have little incentive to impose tough standards of transparency.”

It noted that Ms Caruana Galizia’s son has accused the government of allowing a “culture of impunity” to flourish.

“The priority now — for the EU, as well as Malta — is to find those responsible for Caruana Galizia’s killing and hold them to account. The best way to honour her memory, though, would be to make Europe the kind of place where such blatant assaults on freedom of expression, transparency, and the rule of law are inconceivable,” it insisted.

The Guardian said the assassination of an investigative journalist, one who had unearthed serious allegations of money laundering and corruption in Malta, a European Union state, spoke volumes about the threat to freedom of speech in that country and the atmosphere of impunity and violence that has taken hold in the Mediterranean archipelago.

“As her son Matthew put it, 'she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it'. Her bravery cost her her life. It should not be lost in vain.”
The newspaper said her death must be properly investigated – "local police already appear to be unsympathetic".

One can understand the accusation that Mrs Caruana Galizia was up against not a democracy but a mafia state.- The Guardian

“What is striking about Mrs Caruana Galizia’s reporting is how rotten the state of Malta appears. The EU’s smallest country, with a population of around 420,000, Malta held the rotating European Union presidency until earlier this year. It has been labelled an EU 'pirate tax haven', helping multinationals avoid paying €14bn. A darker side is the 15 mafia-style shootings and bombings that have punctuated its last decade. Its main industries have been infiltrated by crime gangs.

“Earlier this month Europol detailed how the Calabrian organised crime syndicate, the ’Ndrangheta, ran a €2bn money-laundering operation through Maltese online betting companies. Internet gambling companies account for 10% of the island’s GDP.

"But Malta’s big money-spinner has been selling EU passports to the rich. More than 900 bought citizenship in 2016, which at €650,000 a pop means that they contributed nearly 16% of Malta’s budget revenues. Since many were taken up by Eurasian oligarchs, one can understand the accusation that Mrs Caruana Galizia was up against not a democracy but a mafia state. 

“The charge is that Malta is turning into a state run by, and resembling, organised crime – which does not govern but disposes of positions, wealth and troublesome persons. Malta cannot be a sham EU state where elections, the rule of law and the courts are just for show. The continent’s citizens accept EU governance because every member state is a functioning democracy. When one of its own backslides on democratic commitments, when a life is lost in the pursuit of truth, then the EU must take action,” The Guardian insisted.

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