October 16, 2018 / 1:35 PM / a year ago

Malta says million-euro bounty for journalist's killer still on offer

VALLETTA (Reuters) - A million-euro ($1.2 million) reward for information on who ordered the murder of Malta’s most prominent journalist is still available, a year after her death.

People attend three minutes of silence as they gather at the site where anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb one year ago, in Bidnija, Malta October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, who wrote an anti-corruption blog, was killed on Oct. 16, 2017 by a car bomb. Three people arrested in December were charged with the killing, which they have denied.

Police believe an as-yet-unidentified person ordered the attack that Justice Minister Owen Bonnici called “the biggest crime that has ever happened in Malta”.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, a frequent target of Caruana Galizia’s writings, offered the reward last year.

The money would be paid for anything “which can unlock the facts behind the murder. So I reiterate the offer, it is still there,” Bonnici told Reuters in an interview.

The minister defended the daily cleanup of a national memorial opposite Valletta’s law courts that has become a shrine to the journalist’s memory and a center of protest against alleged corruption.

“We have the rule of law in Malta. We have procedures. You cannot simply wake up in the morning and appropriate yourself of a national monument,” he said, adding that he had asked the activists to apply for a permanent memorial to be set up.

Bonnici said the government had made strides to improve the freedom of journalists since the murder, including abolishing criminal libel.

But he declined to criticize the fact that Caruana Galizia’s family continued to face civil defamation lawsuits for what the journalist wrote, saying those who had been defamed felt they had the right to seek redress.

Local and international media groups, including Reuters, began following up stories covered by Caruana Galizia in the wake of her death, in an initiative called the Daphne Project.

Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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