After Daphne Caruana Galizia's killers were jailed on Malta, her son pays ... trends now

After Daphne Caruana Galizia's killers were jailed on Malta, her son pays ... trends now
After Daphne Caruana Galizia's killers were jailed on Malta, her son pays ... trends now

After Daphne Caruana Galizia's killers were jailed on Malta, her son pays ... trends now

Just before 3pm on Monday, October 16, 2017, Daphne Caruana Galizia stopped work, closed her laptop and dashed out of her home in Malta, already late for an appointment at the bank.

She slammed the door so hard that her son Matthew, who'd been working with her, could hear the keys jangling in the lock. 

Then she jumped into her grey Peugeot and roared off. Barely a minute later, a bang sounded. 

In the dining room, the windows rattled in their frames. Outside, the dogs went wild. Matthew was still sitting at the table. 

'I felt the blood drain from my body,' he says. 'I felt the ground fall away. Of course, I hoped and hoped it could be anything else...'

Daphne, 53, had driven only a couple of hundred yards before a huge car bomb had detonated under her seat.

Daphne Caruana Galizia spent three decades exposing crime and corruption — investigating and reporting on drug traffickers, neo-Nazis, politicians, police, fat-cats and, latterly, the government

Daphne Caruana Galizia spent three decades exposing crime and corruption — investigating and reporting on drug traffickers, neo-Nazis, politicians, police, fat-cats and, latterly, the government

Two of her sons, Matthew and Paul (pictured, left and right) flew into Malta upon hearing of her assassination

Two of her sons, Matthew and Paul (pictured, left and right) flew into Malta upon hearing of her assassination

Two of her three murderers, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio (pictured), lost their right to appeal their 40-year sentences

Two of her three murderers, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio (pictured), lost their right to appeal their 40-year sentences

Her murderers had used nearly half a kilo of TNT, but somehow death was not instantaneous.

A farmer driving in the opposite direction up the bumpy lane saw it all — the awful dawning on Daphne's face that something was wrong, the yanking of the handbrake in alarm.

A trail of white smoke. A smallish bang and a flash. Her terrible scream, which went on for a full five seconds.

And then a second, much bigger, explosion that catapulted the car 50ft into a nearby field where it erupted into a blazing fireball.

When Matthew got there minutes later, the car was still on fire.

'My mother's leg lay on the road,' he tells me. 'Her foot was nearby.'

Daphne was Malta's first-ever female journalist and the first non-anonymous columnist. 

She was dogged, driven, fearless and, at the time of her death, the most famous, recognisable and vilified woman in the country.

She had spent the previous three decades exposing crime and corruption — investigating and reporting on drug traffickers, neo-Nazis, politicians, police, fat-cats and, latterly, the government.

In return, she was rewarded with arson attacks on the family home, excrement through the post, plus rape and death threats.

At the time of her death she was battling 47 libel cases and feeling increasingly isolated. 

Just minutes before died, she wrote: 'There are crooks everywhere you look now — the situation is desperate.'

Last week, two of her three murderers, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, lost their right to appeal their 40-year sentences. 

A third killer, Vincent Muscat, is already serving a 15-year sentence.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist investigating state corruption, died in a car bombing on October 16, 2017

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist investigating state corruption, died in a car bombing on October 16, 2017

Inquiry into Ms Galizia's death found the state must accept blame for 'creating an atmosphere of impunity' that 'led to a collapse of the rule of law' (file image)

Inquiry into Ms Galizia's death found the state must accept blame for 'creating an atmosphere of impunity' that 'led to a collapse of the rule of law' (file image)

A few days earlier, in a speech to the Foreign Press Association in London, Queen Camilla singled out Daphne for her courage and conviction. (Sadly, she is just one of so many journalists to lose their lives in the pursuit of justice — in Gaza, almost 60 have already died during the current conflict.) 

And this week, her youngest son Paul, an award-winning journalist for Tortoise Media, who has written a brilliant and very moving book about his mother, A Death In Malta, travelled with me from his home in London to show me where it all happened and tell his extraordinary mother's story.

We begin at Daphne's end. In the middle of the field in the blowy November sunshine, looking at the plastic banners and scraggy flowers and placards marking the spot where she died — trying to understand how a journalist could be murdered like this, in broad daylight, for criticising the government in an EU member state.

Paul, 35, is small, calm and softly spoken. He points out the old gun post on a nearby ridge where the look-out waited, chain-smoking, spying on the family home, ready to raise the alarm the moment his mother left the compound.

He shows me the village where a second hitman was waiting.

And he tells me about the third man, bobbing on a fishing boat in the sea near the capital Valletta, who sent the SMS saying '#REL1=ON' that detonated the bomb. 'I suppose, in some ways, the surprise was that it didn't happen earlier,' he says quietly.

Because from the minute Daphne started work as a journalist in 1988 (just after Paul, the youngest of her three sons, was born) no one could stop her. 

A photo from 1989 shows Peter and Daphne Caruana Galizia with their sons Matthew, Andrew and Paul

A photo from 1989 shows Peter and Daphne Caruana Galizia with their sons Matthew, Andrew and Paul

Daphne Caruana Galizia is pictured with one of her three sons, Andrew in 1988

Daphne Caruana Galizia is pictured above

Daphne Caruana Galizia is pictured with one of her three sons, Andrew in 1988, and again right

Certainly not the second-rate prime minister, Joseph Muscat, whom she had in her sights and who resigned soon after her death following mass public protests, or the Maltese mafia, or the crooked police force. 

Not even the endless lawsuits they all tried to drown her in.

But before we go further, it is important to put this extraordinary woman into context. 

Because the newly independent Malta that Daphne was born into in 1964 was limited and limiting. 

All the power had been grabbed by the church and two political parties, corruption was rife and any dissent was smothered.

There were national papers and reporters. But they were all men — journalism was not considered a suitable profession for women — and none dared tackle the deep-seated corruption, let alone write under their own name. 

Women were expected to marry and have children. Divorce was not an option. Neither was keeping maiden names in marriage and university places were limited.

The young Daphne railed against all this. As a teenager, she listened to Bob Marley, subscribed to Newsweek, The Spectator and Punch, and read all about a parallel universe in the UK where Margaret Thatcher was in power.

When she was 18, she was wrongly accused of assault by the police and treated appallingly in custody. It shifted something deep inside her. 

To begin with, she followed the accepted path — marrying a barrister called Peter, eight years her senior and having her first son, Matthew, at just 21. Andrew followed a year later. Paul the year after, in 1988.

It was when Paul was a couple of months old and domesticity was starting to pall that she sent sample columns to the editor of the Sunday Times of Malta and he got back to her on the spot.

She was a natural — sharp, stark, unafraid. Soon after, she was given her column: Daphne On Sunday.

'Anonymity is not to my liking,' she wrote. 'And I disapprove of people who hide behind a pen-name to attack the world.' 

'And it all sort of spiralled from there,' explains Daphne's widower Peter, now 67. Because Daphne never hid. In a country where no one pushed back, no one questioned, her writing was shocking, outrageous, visceral.

She wrote thousands upon thousands of columns — ruffling feathers, upsetting the natural order and brushing off the idiots who assumed that her husband, or perhaps her father, must have written them for her.

The book draws up a list of Daphne's enemies which she'd brought to book as potential suspects who could have hired her killers ¿ all of whom deny any wrongdoing. A makeshift memorial for the journalist is pictured above

The book draws up a list of Daphne's enemies which she'd brought to book as potential suspects who could have hired her killers – all of whom deny any wrongdoing. A makeshift memorial for the journalist is pictured above

Whilst three men have been charged over the devastating explosion which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, no one knows who they were working for, no date has been set for their trial and no convictions brought. A vigil for the journalist is pictured above

Whilst three men have been charged over the devastating explosion which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, no one knows who they were working for, no date has been set for their trial and no convictions brought. A vigil for the journalist is pictured above

Paul remembers her constantly typing. And how, sometimes, during family holidays in Gozo, a small island off Malta, she'd scrawl her articles in felt-tip pen in big round letters and fax them to her editor.

'She never slept — she just drank a lot of coffee!'

On an island as small as Malta — just 17 miles by nine — she inevitably upset a lot of people. There were nasty letters, abuse in the street, visitors to the house.

'People would come and say to us boys: 'Tell your evil whore mother to shut up'.

There were two attempted arson attacks on the family home. Today there is a

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