She was 53 years old when they paid to have her murdered. That was 19 months ago. The masterminds are still at large.

Three gentlemen stand accused with carrying out the order. The prosecution’s theory is that they received two big fish as a reward for their success. It’s a guessing game whether that remark indicates a sum closer to $200,000 than to a mere $20,000. A contract to murder would probably command the higher end price. 

Needless to say, that contract would have been negotiated through a chain of dark intermediaries to ensure that the mastermind’s identity would be protected by three or four layers of secrecy so that the executioners would only know the last link in the chain. 

Payment for the killing would have also been made either using undeclared cash, or through some anonymous offshore inter-company US dollar transactions. 

But why was Daphne singled out for complete destruction? 

I think the answer is because she enjoyed the full confidence and trust of any whistle-blower and informant who passed on evidence or what they knew about the corrupt practices between those in government and those private interests connected with their dirty deals. 

She had proved herself to be a fearless mother and protector of her sources. She had been proved right too many times. She always double-checked her sources. Furthermore, she was incorruptible and beyond the servility of the usual party machine cronies who sell their soul for a public part-time media consultant salary.  And despite the threats by political brownshirts, she did not flinch, she did not bend.  

The masterminds knew that a spectacular method of annihilation would kill two birds, namely, the pesky journalist herself and the conduit of ironclad confidentiality between the information and the public. The overkill in method was a warning to all citizens, including the executioners and the said intermediaries that after October 16, 2017, in Malta, silence was to be for now the better part of valour. We see it in the new message that “those who speak openly are traitors”.

It is a fact that we do not know the identity of the mastermind and those of his or her associates. All we have is an observation of some very strange behaviour on the part of some individuals, prior to and after the assassination. 

But strange behaviour alone is not evidence of actual guilt. God help us all if it were.  

Then we have the hate machine of the present administration, which is officially tolerated and partially financed by public monies. 

The efforts of dehumanising Daphne belonged in part to persons of trust who were appointed by the government to do nothing else but carry out this mission. For the past 19 months that mission has morphed into trying to erase any memory of her assassination. 

Only God knows why Minister Owen Bonnici has developed a fetish to clear a few candles and pictures of Daphne from her ad hoc memorial at the foot of the Great Siege monument in Valletta on a daily basis. Even his three-month closet “repair” of the site was further manifestation of his ridiculous modus operandi.    

The contract would have been negotiated through a chain of dark intermediaries to ensure that mastermind’s identity wouldbe protected

Daphne was always snapping at the government’s heels. Take the case of the Acapulco minister who filed multiple libel cases, swore on oath multiple garnishee orders and made repeated denials on State television. 

When faced with the imminent disclosure of phone data evidence of his actual whereabouts on the night, he did the Italian advance and ran out of court, which was pretty much what Konrad Mizzi did as soon as his personal accountants were summoned by the defence to give evidence on his Panamanian family planning.

Take the case of a prime minister who shed tears spending over a million euros of taxpayers’ monies because he was accused of being Egrant Inc and yet remains totally blissful in retaining Tillgate as his chief of staff and Hearnville in being his sole chief negotiator of more cheap giveaways of public assets to secret foreign and local big business.  

Both men are subject to ongoing criminal investigations, but their political boss claims he is bound by the rule of law to keep them by his side.   

These events may not be evidence of a minister visiting a brothel on the taxpayers’ tab, nor is it evidence of a Prime Minister’s complicity in secret kickbacks. But such non sequitur behaviour of politicians in a normal country produces immediate resignations.

This illogical dance around the almond tree is due to a mix of stupidity, deceit and arrogance. Take the case of an Equality Minister travelling to Rome en force to tell the heads of the Church to update its teaching on homosexuality while at home she refuses to back a public inquiry into the first ever failure of the State in protecting an investigative journalist who was assassinated under her Cabinet’s collective watch.

Each time that a new case of graft or abuse of power comes to light, we know that if Daphne was still with us, she would have access to even more of the inside information sent in to her from what she often boasted was her large army of spies. 

Yes, the windfall beneficiaries of the crime are many, too many to count. It seems that a public inquiry can only prejudice their peaceful enjoyment of what has come to pass. 

As for the masterminds who ordered the killing and paid two big fish for it, they are fools to their own false sense of security.  

Time will eventually catch up with them.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece


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