Five months on from the outrageous assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the killer is still out there and a big part of the nation is still traumatised.
Despite three career criminals being charged in court with committing the heinous murder, even the Prime Minister has acknowledged that the mastermind is still on the loose.
“Accountability demands that we find out who committed the murder. We believe we have done this and it is now up to the courts to determine. But accountability also demands that we find out who sent those people,” the Prime Minister told The Times some days ago.
He’s right, of course. The charged men were never targets of Caruana Galizia’s particular brand of journalism. As far as we know, they had no reason to kill her. So without knowing who sent them and why, the country can have no closure.
We are left instead with the knowledge that there’s a journalist-killer on the loose. And every day that passes with that status quo, is another day in which the government – by its own benchmark – is failing to show accountability.
The police investigation’s success at finding the three men who allegedly carried out the assassination teaches us an important lesson about how resources determine results.
By bringing in the FBI and other outside help, by giving a blank cheque to investigators, by demanding support from telephony companies, and by treating this case with the utmost priority, the government ensured results. The added pressure from protests and the international media spotlight helped ensure this too.
But if all of those resources and all of that pressure were crucial in finding out who planted and triggered the car bomb, shouldn’t more resources and pressure be placed on finding who sent them?
Whether intentionally or not, the impression being given is that there is no longer a sense of urgency. Maybe investigators have hit a brick wall. Maybe the international support is no longer available. Maybe time has softened the pressure.
But it is our responsibility – as fellow journalists, as influencers, as members of this society – to keep up the pressure until we find closure.
If we demanded a police press conference days after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder to give us an update on investigations, we must demand another one now to update us on the more crucial investigation that should still be ongoing.
We must ask how many people have been questioned. We must ask whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s most regular targets have been eliminated from suspicion and on what grounds. We must ask what international support and cooperation is being sought to bring the investigation to a conclusion.
We must ask whether this case is still at the top of the priority list, who is investigating and whether they still have a blank cheque. We must ask if investigators have found any closed doors and if they are still 100% focused on this case or have other cases been piled onto their plate.
We must ask whether there is still a sense of urgency to find closure or whether the government’s ratings and dwindling protestor numbers have reduced the need to find a conclusion.
The brutal murder of another journalist (and his fiancée) last month – this time in Slovakia – should serve as a fresh wake-up call in Malta. A second journalist murder in an EU-state in less than five months. Is this becoming a trend? Will there be more? Will there be a second journalist murdered in Malta too?
Is that what it will take to reprioritise this investigation and reach a conclusion?
If we want to live in a safe and democratic country where those with power, money or influence cannot get away with murder – let alone the murder of a journalist – this case cannot be forgotten.
The murderer is not simply a hothead. This wasn’t an act committed in the heat of the moment. Somebody out there commissioned this murder – probably spending almost a year planning it to the finest detail and executing it when the time was right.
This person walks with impunity today, for all we know, close to the halls of power or within them.
The images of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s car in flames are etched in our memory. We are a generation that is traumatised even if we have not yet realised it. Rather than taking opposing stands on what her legacy should be or whether a monument should be erected in her honour, all Maltese citizens should unite to find the real culprit. We need to know who had the audacity to commit this crime.
We need to know who is getting away with murder. And we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.