The Maltese government loudly rejected the "implication" made by a UK law firm that it was somehow complicit in the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A UK law firm's conclusion that the investigation into Ms Caruana Galizia's murder violates the European Convention on Human Rights is "one-sided", "unethical" and "a huge insult to the Maltese courts," the government said on Saturday.
"The undertone of the so-called ‘Urgent Advice’ is that the State was itself involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and on this basis it is argued that practically no Maltese authority should be involved in the investigation," it said in its statement.
In an advice published by the Caruana Galizia family on Friday, Doughty Street Chambers public law specialist Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC said that the Maltese authorities were failing to ensure an adequate, impartial investigation of the murder, in breach of international obligations.
The advice concluded that deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta should be removed from the case, that the Caruana Galizia family should receive an apology for not being kept informed of progress, and that "external, impartial investigators" had to be brought in.
The law firm's legal advice was solicited by Ms Caruana Galizia's three sons. Last month, the Caruana Galizia family filed a constitutional application to have Mr Valletta, who is married to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana and who was targeted in blog posts by Ms Caruana Galizia, removed from the case.
'Contempt for the Maltese State' - government
The 22-page legal document rankled with the government, which in its Saturday statement expressed surprise that Doughty Street Chambers had expressed themselves based "solely on information afforded to them by their clients" in a case which had yet to be heard in local courts.
It said the implication that the government was somehow complicit in the killing was based "only on the open contempt which the clients [Ms Caruana Galizia's sons] hold towards the Maltese state" and said the claims were intended to undermine Maltese institutions in the eyes of the world.
"The undertone of the ‘Urgent Advice’ is that the State was itself involved in the murder of #DaphneCaruanaGalizia and on this basis argues that practically no Maltese authority should be involved in the investigation." Now there's an idea.https://t.co/ToVxHwgX6s— A. Caruana Galizia (@ACaruanagalizia) December 9, 2017
The investigation into Ms Caruana Galizia's murder involved the FBI, Europol, Dutch and Finnish investigators, the government noted. Insisting on an international investigation despite this revealed the true underlying motive behind the calls - to eliminate all Maltese institutions from the investigation "in favour of foreigners".
Having the investigation led by foreigners was not only inconceivable for a sovereign country, the government said. "It is also in itself a huge insult to the Maltese courts, including the institution conducting the magisterial inquiry into the murder which was said to enjoy the confidence of all stakeholders."
In a tweet, the victim's son Andrew reflected the family's doubts: "'The undertone of the ‘Urgent Advice’ is that the State was itself involved in the murder of #DaphneCaruanaGalizia and on this basis argues that practically no Maltese authority should be involved in the investigation. Now there's an idea."