Book Review: ‘A Death in Malta,’ by Paul Caruana Galizia

Finally, on an October afternoon in 2017, she was killed at age 53 as she turned out of her driveway. A bomb that had been planted overnight, triggered remotely, blew her and her gray Peugeot to pieces. A farmer who was driving by is quoted by her youngest son, Paul Caruana Galizia, as saying that he saw her last moments. “I even heard her scream,” he said. “A big scream.”

Her life and legacy are ably captured in that son’s book, “A Death in Malta,” which explores not only her career but also its impact on his family and the measures taken by him and his older brothers, Matthew and Andrew, to encourage investigations into her shocking murder. News gatherers are not often killed in Western Europe. Of the 67 deaths worldwide recorded in 2017 by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, only two were of Western Europeans: Caruana Galizia and Kim Wall, a Swede killed in Copenhagen. One result of the Caruana Galizia brothers’ efforts was a damning 2021 report by a panel of judges who found that the Maltese state had “failed to recognize the real and immediate risks” that Daphne faced. Worse, they said that the “country was moving toward a situation which could be qualified as a mafia state. It was the journalist’s assassination that put a brake on this predicted disaster.”

There were arrests. Two brothers, George and Alfred Degiorgio, are doing time as the hit men; so is a fellow named Vincent Muscat, for his supporting role. Several others have also been charged, notably a Maltese businessman, Yorgen Fenech, who was captured while trying to flee on his yacht and who now awaits trial as an accused mastermind of the plot.

As for the political fallout, the Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat (no relation to Vincent), announced his resignation as 2019 neared an end. He has not been implicated in the killing. But maybe he feels punished enough, having been pummeled mercilessly by Daphne in writing, dismissed as “the Poodle.”

This book may be an eye opener for those who know little about the country of Malta. The picture offered in these pages is not pretty, laden as it is with pervasive corruption and lurking menace, all the more startling because it involves a European Union member.

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