The unresolved murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is a “clear signal to journalists they are under threat because people who kill them may go unpunished”, Sophie in’t Veld said.

The Dutch MEP said the authorities needed to send a clear message that Ms Caruana Galizia’s murderers could not remain unpunished.

“They need to do this not just because justice needs to be done but because journalists need to be sure they can do their job without fear,” Ms in’t Veld told the Times of Malta

It “was clearly a political murder and a warning to others”.

“Freedom of the press means it is essential that those who are guilty are brought to trial,” Ms in’t Veld added.

Earlier this week, the MEP said during a BBC interview that journalists in Malta continued to face “an open threat” as long as the murder remained unsolved.

“We are called the rule of law monitoring group and we will be looking at not just the murder case but also why there are concerns of corruption, the non-functioning of supervisory authorities for financial markets, for example, misuse of EU funds and, of course, connections with threats to journalists,” Ms In’t Velt said.

READ: 'Europol should have a role in Daphne probe' 

She will be heading a delegation to Malta next month to look into the rule of law, pointing out that sufficient doubts remained, with concerns over corruption still a priority.

“We still need to clarify a lot [of things],” Ms in’t Veld said, adding there were still questions on the rule of law and the country’s justice system.

Referring to the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry, Ms in’t Veld commented that “we cannot say now everything is resolved”. Her delegation took note of the inquiry but there were “other issues which remained worrying and need to be clarified,” she remarked.

The magisterial inquiry found no evidence linking Prime Minister Joseph Muscat or his wife, Michelle, to Panama company Egrant. The claim had originally been made by Ms Caruana Galizia last year.

Concerns regarding the sale of passports remained, the MEP said, adding there were “big risks of corruption” associated with the scheme.

“We really want to look at the facts objectively. However, being objective does not mean holding back from asking critical questions,” she said.

“We’re not the police, we’re not a court, we’re not private investigators but we do want to verify how the system works and that the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists are safeguarded,” she continued.

The MEPs’ visit to Malta next month will be the third in less than a year.

They had first been here in November, a month after the murder of Ms Caruana Galizia, returning in June.

The visiting delegation, comprised of members from the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, will again be evaluating the progress made on the rule of law, corruption and the protection of journalists.

Following their first mission to Malta, MEPs had expressed serious concerns about the unclear separation of powers in Malta, which they held as the source of the perceived lack of independence of the judiciary and the police, the weak implementation of anti-money laundering legislation, the “serious” problems deriving from the citizenship sale programme and the mention of Maltese politically-exposed persons in the Panama Papers and their continuing presence in government.

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