fExactly five years after the car bomb attack on Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, two men have been convicted of murder. A judge sentenced the brothers, who surprisingly pleaded guilty, to 40 years in prison on Friday in the capital, Valletta. According to investigators, the assassination was carried out by three men; the third suspect was sentenced to 15 years in prison in early 2021 after confessing and revealing details of the crime. A possible mastermind is waiting for his trial.
The murder had caused dismay and outrage on the EU island state and internationally. The President of the European Parliament from Malta, Roberta Metsola, wrote on Facebook on Friday evening that the guilty verdict does not mean justice for Caruana Galazia and her relatives, but it is “a small step”. Metsola wrote that those behind the murder and those who protected the perpetrators must now be held accountable.
Caruana Galizia was one of the country’s best-known journalists and researched and published for years on the sometimes far-reaching corruption on the Mediterranean island.
The two brothers were arrested shortly after the October 16, 2017 bomb attack. They denied the prosecutor’s allegations to the end. Only on Friday afternoon – a few hours after the start of the trial – did they surprisingly plead guilty. In doing so, they avoided being convicted by the jury set up that morning. They were threatened with life imprisonment. Even if the 57 and 59-year-old brothers are released early from prison, they will spend most of the rest of their lives behind bars, media in Valletta reported.
As the investigators reconstructed, the three men placed the explosives under the driver’s seat of the journalist’s car and let it detonate remotely. One of the brothers triggered the detonator on a boat with a cell phone and threw the phone into the sea. The third contract killer had already given details.
A taxi driver had made another confession in the cause. He claimed to have been an intermediary between the killers and businessman Yorgen Fenech, who commissioned the assassination. That entrepreneur has been in custody since November 2019, when he was arrested on his yacht in a possible attempt to escape. The millionaire is waiting for his trial to begin. He denies the allegations and claims that influential politicians were behind the assassination. According to media reports, the two convicted brothers announced when they left the courtroom that they would now reveal the whole truth.