The recklessness of the chatty and unprofessional foreign press

"And it is here that the foreign press that wants to dig deeper should be asking more about the truth and what is fiction: what are the forces at play that are hampering this investigation? Why has the pursuit of ‘rule of law’ in the name of one family, meant that the rule of law was effectively being endangered in the course of this investigation?"

I have been greatly disappointed in discovering how overrated and perhaps even shallow, certain foreign journalists can be – you appreciate this when you read the reports and realise what is being left unsaid, ostensibly because it suits a seductive narrative.

Certainly enough, the strict deadlines and precise editorial instructions that get dished out in the major newspapers abroad mean that most journalists must return home with a story, and that perhaps, nobody is unwilling to rock the boat and move beyond a prescribed story unfolding before them.

And back in Malta, there is not much the press can do when the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia starts getting complex or repetitive, and people start to switch off. We simply try to bring to the table what is interesting and credible.

What we have seen over the past years since this assassination has been more division in Maltese society. Most people seem to know what she stood for, but what the natives know seems to have been totally ignored by the press abroad. Her admirers, though justified in their unstinting campaign for justice, want to believe at all costs that this murder could have been mandated by Joseph Muscat or Chris Cardona himself.

But it is clear that a big part of the reason these people want Muscat and Cardona behind bars is based on what they think is ‘justice’… justice based on deep-seated prejudice but not facts.

It pains me that hand-in-hand with this narrative is the conviction of these people that the Maltese press is not free, when they have not experienced what it is to work as a journalist and to weather the pressure brought upon by politicians, the Opposition included, both now and in its glory days in power.

It pains me because I only see their narrative being carved out of a conviction that Malta is divided between two tribes, the red and blue, good and bad, educated and uneducated… and more. And this is manifested in the way MPs like Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi act and speak, believing at all costs what they say is true even if the facts prove otherwise.

I could forgive them for being like this. They are politicians. But as today’s front-page report shows, it’s magistrate – now judge – Anthony Vella who may not be so easily forgiven. Not only has a shabby approach to the Caruana Galizia murder inquiry been exposed, but the way the inquiry was unfolding up until a certain point in time, raises serious suspicions over people’s motives.

We have already raised these questions in the past: why was the study of Caruana Galizia – the victim – not sealed, and her laptop not retrieved back in October 2017? Isn’t that what happens in the case of every murder victim?

Vella certainly had no concern about leaks in his team. His entourage was privy to some very sensitive information and their sympathies raise important questions about trust. For Vella allowed his appointed experts to collect sensitive call logs of various senior figures, including the Prime Minister and all police officers on the murder site, when these experts were hardly qualified to interpret the information in their hands.

Even more serious is the fact that a series of details – deliberate misrepresentations of the facts – were revealed to third parties. These ‘facts’ could only have emanated from inside the inquiry, where I know for a fact that police investigators have been uneasy about third parties and experts entering the magistrate’s chamber with access to evidence. This was itself evident at the start of the investigations, when following the arrests of the Degiorgios, sensitive footage collected by the police and Security Service was leaked to the foreign press, undoubtedly by lawyers with access to this evidence.

Vella’s biggest mistake was to appoint court expert Martin Bajada to collect the CCTV footage from a private residence in Siggiewi at the end of 2017, which clearly disproved an eyewitness’s allegation reported by the Daphne Project that a government minister met one of the murder suspects at the Ferdinand’s bar.

Mistake, because this resulting conclusion was not even included in the inquiry, and police investigators – the very investigators who were crucial in finding and arresting the three suspects – were not even informed that Bajada had collected the footage!

And it is here that the foreign press that wants to dig deeper should be asking more about the truth and what is fiction: what are the forces at play that are hampering this investigation? Why has the pursuit of ‘rule of law’ in the name of one family, meant that the rule of law was effectively being endangered in the course of this investigation?

Because, apart from the first magistrate, one could easily point a finger at Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, the lawyer of the Caruana Galizias and darling of the Italian press, who happens to have been told in his face by people close to investigation, that his actions could only benefit those who killed Caruana Galizia.

This reckless behaviour and loquaciousness with the foreign press has served only to create chaos and confusion.

I have faith that the brains behind this murder will be discovered and brought to justice. Not by the Daphne Project however. We must have faith in those who have managed to work relentlessly to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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