A motion to send a rapporteur to Malta to monitor ongoing investigations into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was signed by an “exceptionally high number” of MPs from across Europe.
The motion, presented by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, urges the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to draft a report and appoint a rapporteur to follow the case closely.
Mr Omtzigt said the motion had been signed by 114 MPs hailing from different parties, a number he called “exceptionally high”.
“Most motions carry 20 to 40 signatures. Now, the Assembly’s bureau has to decide whether the motion leads to a report and a rapporteur who will follow the case. It will be very hard to put aside a motion bearing 114 signatures,” he remarked.
The motion was tabled this week during a meeting attended by the three sons of the journalist, who was killed by a car-bomb 100 days ago. The Assembly said her murder raised concerns “internationally about corruption and the rule of law in Malta”.
“Prominent subjects of Ms Caruana Galizia’s investigations, who may bear responsibility for her death, have not yet been prosecuted. The Maltese government also appears unwilling to hold a public inquiry into whether Ms Caruana Galizia’s assassination could have been avoided,” the motion says.
It adds the international community “has a responsibility to monitor the ongoing investigation to ensure that all aspects surrounding the assassination are thoroughly and impartially investigated by the competent authorities”.
The investigation had to be conducted without political interference, as “suspected by numerous Maltese demonstrators”.
“The Assembly should help shed some light on the background of the crime, in cooperation with the relevant Maltese authorities. The effective investigation of this assassination is crucial to all who seek justice and an end to impunity for those who instigate and commit the assassination of whistleblowers and journalists,” the motion says.
Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola said having a strong show of support from such an influen-tial body within the Council of Europe “says a lot”.
“Joseph Muscat cannot simply smirk, shrug his shoulders and expect everyone to forget that, 100 days ago, one of Malta’s most influential journalists was assassinated. The world’s eyes are on Malta and they demand answers. They are looking for a signal of change, a sign that justice will be done and that it will be seen to be done,” Dr Metsola said.
Dr Metsola, referring to comments by Labour MP Etienne Grech, who attended the meeting with the Caruana Galizia family and insisted freedom of expression in Malta was not under threat, said the outburst was “disgraceful”.
It only served to demonstrate the government was trying to “sweep it all under the carpet, as it has tried to do with so many issues before. It will find that it cannot do that this time round. Tellingly, Dr Grech refused to sign the motion – it would be interesting to know exactly which parts he disagreed with,” Dr Metsola said.
She praised the slain journalist’s sons for acting “with such stoic dignity and clarity during the meeting”.
Nationalist MEP David Casa said the motion and the backing it received showed it was no longer just the EU that was concerned but all institutions.
“This includes the Council of Europe, which is the ultimate authority on fundamental rights.”