Matthew Caruana Galizia remembers the day his mother died with startling accuracy: their last shared meal, a small lunch, the jangling of her keys as she locked the heavy front door behind her, and the way the dogs barked after hearing her car explode just down the road from their family home.
“It was like being in a war zone,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Monday. “I followed the smoke and that’s when I saw this big ball of fire. That was the car, completely engulfed in flames, you couldn’t even see the body.”
Maltese Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed as she left her house six months ago, in October 2017, when a bomb affixed to her car was detonated. In her last blog post, published the day she died, she wrote: “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”
Just after Caruana Galizia’s killing, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Amanpour there would be “no impunity” in the search for the those behind the slaying.
Three men have since been arraigned for detonating the car bomb and are awaiting trial, but Caruana Galizia’s sons, Matthew and Paul, told Amanpour that six months later their family is still searching for the masterminds behind their mother’s death.
Paul Caruana Galizia called them “just three common criminals” who were unknown to their mother.
“They’re literally the people who placed the bomb. Of course what we’re interested in is the people who had motive to kill her, the people who our mother investigated.”
“It’s hard to see this coming from anywhere outside Malta’s political system,” Paul Caruana Galizia said.
Responding to these comments, Malta’s Prime Minister condemned the assassination and told CNN “no Prime Minister would want a journalist to be murdered under any circumstances,” and that an investigation is ongoing.
“In the course of her work she made many enemies, whether in organized crime, business, government or among the general public,” Muscat said in the statement. “Allegations of organized threats or harassment against Daphne Caruana Galizia or her family are wholly false. My family and I were at the center of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s politically motivated attacks, but we did not respond to her provocations.”
The family left Malta just after their mother’s funeral, fearing for their own security.
“The authorities simply aren’t a credible deterrent to crime anymore,” Paul Caruana Galizia said. “They couldn’t stop this happening to our mother, in fact they were some of her chief harassers. So, I mean the question is how can we feel safe?”
Muscat’s government now faces pressure not just from Caruana Galizia’s family but also the European Union, where politicians are demanding Maltese police aggressively pursue people who would have wanted to silence the journalist.
Caruana Galizia’s reporting exposed corruption in the highest reaches of Malta’s society and politics. With her death, many of those ongoing investigations were left unfinished.
Eighteen media organizations across 15 countries have joined to finish her reporting in “The Daphne Project.” Reuters, Le Monde, and The New York Times are all taking part. The effort has been coordinated by the Paris-based nonprofit Forbidden Stories, an organization that aims to finish the work left behind by slain, imprisoned, or otherwise incapacitated journalists.
Caruana Galizia’s family hope The Daphne Project can preserve her legacy and change the perception of her within their country.
“They had an image of her as a witch, someone who was subhuman or nonhuman, they were made to hate her,” Matthew Caruana Galizia told Amanpour.
“So, now that they’re seeing a human being they just don’t know what to do. I think The Daphne Project has succeeded in that objective at least, and also because the journalists are taking up her investigations, that feels like a taste of justice.”