A Maltese investigative journalist who had exposed her island nation’s links with the so-called Panama Papers document leak has been killed as a bomb destroyed her car near her home.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, had just driven away from her home in Mosta, a town outside the capital Valletta, when the bomb exploded, sending the vehicle’s wreckage spiralling over a wall and into a field.
Prime minister Joseph Muscat acknowledged she was “one of my harshest critics, on a political and personal level”, but denounced the “barbaric attack” as “unacceptable” violence that also assaulted freedom of expression.
Ms Caruana Galizia was named by Politico magazine among the 28 Europeans who are “shaping, shaking and stirring” Europe.
She had exposed that Mr Muscat’s wife Michelle, as well as his energy minister and the government’s chief-of-staff, held companies in Panama by looking into the 2016 document leak.
Mr Muscat and his wife deny they held such companies.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia called the killing a “political murder”.
Ms Caruana Galizia had been sued for libel because of various articles she wrote on her blog Running Commentary, and she had filed a report with police two weeks ago that she was receiving threats.
Monday evening’s parliamentary session was scrapped, except for briefings about the bombing given by Mr Muscat and Mr Delia.
In June, Mr Muscat was sworn in for a second term as prime minister following snap elections he had called to reinforce his government as the Panama Papers leak indicated his wife owned an offshore company. The couple deny wrongdoing.
The leak exposed the identities of the rich and powerful around the world with offshore holdings in Panama.