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Murdered Malta Journalist’s Family Doubts Panel Probe Impartial

The family of murdered investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia said they have no faith in an allegedly independent probe into her killing on Malta, with a panel set up by the government that includes a lawyer who represented clients she was looking into for possible corrupt ties at the highest level.
Malta news media identified him as law professor and litigator Ian Refalo, leading her family to request a meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – whom she was also looking into – drawing intense political scrutiny after revealing members of his administration set up secretive offshore companies shortly after entering government.
“The board (of inquiry) will be unfit for purpose if the public has reason to doubt any of its wider members’ independence or impartiality,” her family said, The Guardian reported.
That came just after the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner urged Malta to drop libel lawsuits against Galizia, according to a letter to Muscat, the paper said. Under Maltese law, her family members are now the defendants as they accuse the government of hiding the truth.
Her family has been relentless in seeking justice and campaigning to find out who masterminded the assassination as three men are awaiting trial for allegedly planting the car bomb that killed her almost two years ago, in October, 2017.
A police investigation has stalled, adding to doubts the government wants to find who was responsible after her probe put a spotlight on corruption that led to the closing of a bank and a Russian whistleblower working there fleeing for her life.
The terms of inquiry set out in a statement released by the government range from determining whether the state could have prevented the killing, to whether criminal law provisions are sufficient to prevent a culture of impunity, the paper said.
The commission is supposed to have public meetings but can decide whether to hear some witnesses behind closed doors in secret testimony in a process expected to take at least another nine months, slowing any possible discovery of who wanted her killed.
The commission will be chaired by retired judge Michael Mallia, and its two other members are a litigator and professor of law at the university of Malta and a former director of forensic science laboratories at the Malta police department.
“Given the gravity of its purpose and its mandate to investigate state institutions,” the family said, “justice demands that the board’s wider members have no financial or political links to the current political administration”.
It was said they back the choice of Mallia but not the other members and Caruana Galizia’s son, Paul, said on there were “serious problems with regard to the members of the Board of Inquiry,” announced.
“The establishment of a public inquiry is long overdue, and is an essential step towards justice for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” Rebecca Vincent, United Kingdom Bureau Director of journalists’ campaign group RSF told the paper.
“But a public inquiry that lacks independence and impartiality will fool no one – and the goal remains full justice for this heinous assassination. We will remain vigilant and scrutinize the composition and actions of the board of inquiry, and act to hold the Maltese government to account,” she added.

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