An investigative journalist in Malta, whose stories linked the small island nation’s political elite to offshore accounts exposed in the 2016 Panama Papers, was killed by a car bomb Monday. Thirty minutes after publishing a story accusing the prime minister’s chief of staff of corruption, a bomb went off in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s car while she was driving near her home. Political leaders in the country are calling the bombing a “political murder.” The 52-year-old journalist aggressively pursued instances of corruption in the Mediterranean country and was dubbed “a one-woman WikiLeaks crusading against untransparency and corruption” by Politico Europe for her influential work.
From the New York Times:
Ms. Caruana Galizia ran a blog that was so popular and influential that it helped cause a political crisis when she accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife of benefiting from a secret Panamanian shell company that was used to deposit unexplained payments from Azerbaijan’s ruling family. Mr. Muscat, who has denied wrongdoing, called a snap election in June, which his Labour Party won, giving him a second term.
“I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country,” Muscat said in a statement. “Everyone is aware that Ms. Caruana Galizia was one of my harshest critics, politically and personally, as she was for others too. However, I can never use, in any way, this fact to justify, in any possible way, this barbaric act that goes against civilization and all dignity.”
Just weeks before the bombing, Caruana Galizia filed a police report that she was receiving threats. Her investigations earned her many powerful enemies in the small European nation; she was twice sued for libel. “Opposition leader Adrian Delia sued her over a series of stories linking him to a prostitution racket in London,” according to the Toronto Star. “Economy Minister Chris Cardona claimed libel when she wrote that he visited a brothel while in Germany on government business.”