Will the country ever get closure on some of Daphne Caruana Galizia's top stories?
No Maltese journalist was quite as controversial as Daphne Caruana Galizia and several of her stories were often hit by libel cases from some of the most powerful people in Malta.
With her death, those libels are now stuck in legal limbo. The criminal libel suits have automatically collapsed and the civil ones will only proceed if both the plaintiffs and Caruana Galizia’s heirs agree to proceed with them - a clause in Maltese law which was confirmed to Lovin Malta by a lawyer.
Below are some of her most startling stories which now risk being lost forever.
Joseph and Michelle Muscat with the Trumps, New York City, Sept. 2017
1. The Muscats and the secret Panama company
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s claim earlier this year that the wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was the secret beneficiary of an offshore Panama company stunned the nation and prompted Muscat to call a snap election. Both Muscat and his wife Michelle sued Caruana Galizia for libel, with the Prime Minister describing the story as “the biggest lie in Malta’s political history”.
With a magisterial inquiry still ongoing, the true identity of Egrant’s owner remains a mystery although Caruana Galizia had said the documents proving her story correct have been uploaded onto the cloud by third parties.
2. The economy minister and the German brothel
Earlier this year, Caruana Galizia penned a salacious story claiming economy minister Chris Cardona and his consultant had visited the brothel FKK Acapulco while on government business in Velbert, Germany.
The story included copious details, including quotes of Cardona while at the brothel. Cardona didnt only sue Caruana Galizia for libel, but imposed a garnishee order on her of around €50,000 - an unprecedented move against a journalist which prompted the Nationalist Party to organise a mass protest.
Meeting between Maltese and Azeri leaders, Baku, December 2014
Leyla Aliyeva and Michelle Muscat, Girgenti Palace, February 2014
3. Konrad, Keith and the Azerbaijan link
Back in April, Caruana Galizia stunningly reported that a company owned by Leyla Aliyeva, daughter of the dictator of Azerbaijan, had transferred “very large amounts” of money into the Panama companies owned by tourism minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, as well as the mysterious Egrant.
Mizzi and Schembri responded by suing Caruana Galizia for libel, with both vehemently denying that any money had ever been transferred into their companies that they had ever had any sort of relationship with Leyla Aliyeva or her powerful family.
4. Konrad and his ‘secret lover’
Before the Panama Papers scandal even broke out, Caruana Galizia accused Konrad Mizzi of having a secret affairs with his communications coordinator Lindsey Gambin. The story’s details were extremely specific, claiming Mizzi and Gambin had been spotted kissing each other at the Tiffany Champagne and Cigar Room at the Hilton Hotel.
Although it may sound petty, the story had profound insinuations - namely that Mizzi’s affair was proof that his marriage Sai Mizzi Liang had broken down and that her controversial job as Malta Enterprise’s envoy to China was nothing more than the state secretly paying her alimony on Mizzi’s behalf.
Konrad Mizzi, Sai Mizzi Liang and Lindsey Gambin all sued Caruana Galiza for criminal libel, which means the case is now dead.
Silvio Debono presenting the Hard Rock Hotel project
5. Hotelier Silvio Debono and his 19 libels
Earlier this year, hotelier Silvio Debono - owner of the dB group filed no fewer than 19 libel suits against Caruana Galizia following a series of reports accusing him of corruption - including on a concession to develop the former ITS land in Pembroke into a Hard Rock Hotel. The hotelier pledged to donate any libel damages from the case to charity. Caruana Galizia hit back with a strong media statement, warning his flurry of libels was a tactic to silence her.
“They do it to silence criticism through fear and intimidation,” she said. “This is consonant with the fact that we in Malta are now living in a culture of fear.”
6. The CHOGM taskforce head and hotel 'kickbacks'
A month before the general election, Caruana Galizia published an e-mail by the Malta Hotel Restaurants Association, saying the 2015 CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) taskforce - which was led by Phyliis Muscat - was demanding “commissions” on stays by delegates. Caruana Galizia reported the word “commission” was code for “kickbacks”, prompting Phyllis Muscat to sue her for libel and accuse her of inventing a story so as to damage her reputation.
7. The reports which spoiled Alfred Mifsud’s chance for top banking job
A year ago, the government nominated former Central Bank deputy governor Alfred Mifsud as the bank’s new governor. However, his chance at the big time was spoiled after Caruana Galizia wrote he had received a Lm150,000 kickback from businessman Ronnie Demajo in the late 1990s, in return for the installation of banking software, where Mifsud was chairman.
Mifsud denied the story and sued Caruana Galizia for libel but chose not to pursue the role of Central Bank governor.
8. Adrian Delia and his Soho skeletons
During his campaign for the PN (Nationalist Party) leadership last summer, now Opposition leader Adrian Delia hit Caruana Galizia with five separate libel suits in the span week after the journalist reported he had helped launder money from a prostitution ring in Soho over a decade ago.
Caruana Galizia reported Delia had taken a cut from the proceeds of prostitution from brothels run by his clients in return for laundering the rest of it to an offshore company through his bank account in Jersey.
Delia promptly dropped all five libel cases earlier today.
The Maltese newspapers had the same headlines on Sunday 22 Octobre 2017