It is probably only thanks to the Council of Europe’s pressure that the government has finally agreed to hold a public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. Both her family and all law-abiding people have rightly demanded it.

Such a public inquiry should have started soon after the assassination but the government was clearly averse to the move, citing the possibility of derailing the actual police investigation. The Office of the Prime Minister had never explicity said ‘no’ to the idea, but it did not set it up either.

Then on Friday night, just half an hour before the Opposition leader was due to address the annual Independence mass meeting, the government issued a statement to announce it had set up a board of inquiry tasked mainly with establishing whether Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder could have been avoided.

Within minutes, the journalist’s family and government critics raised questions about the impartiality of one or two members of the board.

Some of the concerns raised are legitimate and it is encouraging to note that the government intends to give Ms Caruana Galizia’s family the meeting it requested. The board will be unfit for purpose if the public has reason to doubt any of its wider members’ independence or impartiality.

The people of this country expect a thorough public investigation, conducted by people who are not only competent but are also known to do their job without fear or favour

Let there be no mistake about it. The people of this country expect a thorough public investigation, conducted by people who are not only competent but are also known to do their job without fear or favour. Furthermore, the inquiry board should publish its report immediately once concluded. No more, no less.

It bears repeating what the European Court of Human Rights said recently in a case involving the death of a Russian tax consultant while in custody. The panel of European judges, including Chief Justice Emeritus Vincent de Gaetano, who was president, commented that, although steps had been taken to secure evidence and a criminal case was opened within eight days from the death, the authorities “did not demonstrate the required thoroughness in dealing with the case”.

This sounds familiar.

The author of the Council of Europe report leading to the inquiry resolution, Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, insisted the inquiry should be conducted by a truly independent panel, chaired by a retired or international judge and including trusted representatives of civil society with no political or government links.

It should focus on how the assassination could have been prevented, how similar murders can be avoided and what needs to be done to ensure that cases of high-level corruption, are properly investigated without journalists having to risk their lives.

The people, and certainly the Council of Europe, view it as befitting a nation that cherishes the rule of law and constantly strives to achieve greater levels of justice and democracy.

Parallel with the inquiry, the public is expecting developments into the murder investigations. It has been almost two years since that dark October afternoon in Bidnija.

Three men are facing trial for detonating the bomb, but the mastermind remains elusive, though the police clearly have some leads.

The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia will always remain a blot on this country. It is up to the police and the government to show the case is being treated with the urgency and detail it deserves.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.