Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, had just driven away from her home in Mosta, a large town on Malta’s main island, when the bomb went off, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.
Caruana Galizia’s death resulted from a “barbaric attack” that also amounted to an assault on freedom of expression, Muscat said. He said the journalist “was one of my harshest critics, on a political and personal level” as he denounced her slaying.
One of the topics she examined was the Maltese content in the Panama Papers leaked in 2016. She wrote that Muscat’s wife, the country’s energy minister and the government’s chief-of-staff had offshore holdings in Panama to receive money from Azerbaijan. Muscat and his wife, Michelle, denied they had companies in Panama.
Caruana Galizia filed a police report two weeks ago, saying she was receiving threats, law enforcement officials told Malta news outlets on Monday.
A half hour before she was killed, the journalist posted to her website an item about a libel claim the prime minister’s chief of staff had brought against a former opposition figure over comments the latter made about corruption.
Monday evening’s Parliament session was scrapped, except for briefings about the bombing given by Muscat and Delia, who called the reporter’s slaying a “political murder.”
Caruana Galizia herself had been sued for libel over blog entries. She for many years was a harsh critic of Malta’s Labor party and government. More recently she had expanded her criticism to include the opposition Nationalist Party. Her slaying drew swift denunciations in the tiny EU nation.
“Daphne played a vitally important role in unearthing serious allegations of money laundering and corruption in Malta, including those involving senior figures in the Maltese government,” said Sven Giegold, a Greens member in the European Parliament.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani in a tweet called the development a “tragic example of a journalist who sacrificed her life to search for the truth.”