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Malta buries assassinated anti-corruption journalist

Ⓒ AFP – Matthew Mirabelli – | The son of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, wearing the coffin of their mother in Mosta, Malta, November 3, 2017

Hundreds of people gathered in Malta Friday for the funeral of anti-corruption journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, whose assassination on 16 October caused a shock wave far beyond the small Mediterranean island.

The ceremony took place in the great Christian sanctuary of Mosta, not far from the home and the same place where the 53-year-old journalist was killed in the explosion of her car bomb.

This attack, almost unheard of in a country of the European Union, deeply shocked in Europe and beyond.

“Today, the world is in mourning for Daphne Caruana Galizia,” said the European Commission on Friday, which lowered the European flag at its headquarters in Brussels and around the world.

A Mass was said by the Archbishop of Malta, Bishop Charles Scicluna, during this ceremony, which is forbidden to the press.

“We are here to pray for Daphne, a victim of the murderous violence that killed a woman, a mother, a journalist,” said Bishop Scicluna in his homily.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Matthew Mirabelli – | Demonstrator holds up a poster at a protest to demand justice for journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, October 22, 2017

Once the ceremony was over, the audience applauded the casket for a long time as they came out of the church, throwing flowers at them and shouting “Thank you Daphne” and “We want justice”, before burial in the family crypt.

The journalist’s family had wanted her funeral to remain private.

The Maltese government, however, decided to make Friday a national day of mourning, saying that “no attack against freedom of expression is allowed in the Maltese democracy”.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Matthew Mirabelli – | Flowers and candles in front of the photo of blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, October 19, 2017 in Valletta, Malta

As in Brussels, the flags were at half-mast all over the island, the smallest state in the European Union with 430,000 inhabitants.

Few personalities attended these funerals, with the exception of European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

– ‘In the first line’ –

Daphne Caruana Galizia “was a sentinel, a soldier on the front line in the defense of our values,” said Tajani. The European Commission reiterated on Friday its request for an “independent and thorough investigation” and the arrest of the guilty parties.

The international press has also mobilized. Several media bosses sent Thursday a joint letter to Vice President of the European Commission Franz Timmermans, asking him to use his powers to ensure justice and freedom of the press preserved in Malta.

“Daphne’s assassins must not be allowed to stifle his investigation of corruption in the highest circles in Malta”, write the directors of the Guardian, Le Monde, Financial Times, El Pais, La Repubblica , the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the New York Times and the BBC.

“We insist that the Maltese authorities make every effort to ensure that this atrocious, barbaric assassination does not lead to the situation that the authors apparently want to achieve: that nobody dares to ask the relevant questions and that no journalist dares to investigate the powers involved, “said Timmermans, according to an excerpt from his response to the eight media.

However, no suspect has so far been identified by Maltese investigators, assisted by foreign experts.

The government has promised a million euros reward for information leading to the perpetrators and sponsors of the murder.

But in Malta, many do not trust judicial and police officials, many of whom had been targeted by the blogger’s attacks.

Daphne Caruana Galizia had revealed some of the darkest parts of Maltese politics, virulently attacking Labor Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and more recently also the Leader of the Opposition.

After his death, his sons demanded the resignation of Muscat, accusing him of creating a culture of impunity that turned Malta into a “mafia island”.

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