Daphne Caruana Galizia, a prominent Maltese journalist and blogger who made repeated and detailed corruption allegations against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s inner circle, was on Monday killed by a car bomb.
Muscat has condemned the killing as a “barbaric” act and ordered security services to devote maximum resources to bringing those responsible to justice.
“What happened today is unacceptable on various levels. Today is a black day for our democracy and our freedom of speech,” he told reporters.
Caruana Galizia, 53, died mid-afternoon, close to her home in Bidnija in the north of the island.
The force of the blast reduced her car to pieces and catapulted the journalist’s body into a nearby field, witnesses said. She leaves a husband and three sons.
A local television station reported that she had filed a police complaint earlier this month about threats she had received.
Muscat added: “Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.
“I will not rest until justice is done.”
In the final entry on her blog, posted within an hour of her death, Caruana Galizia reiterated an allegation that Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, was a “crook” who used his government influence to enrich himself.
“There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate,” she signed off.
Caruana Galizia’s death comes four months after Muscat’s Labour Party won a resounding victory in a general election he called early as a result of scandals to which Caruana Galizia’s allegations were central.