Daphne Caruana Galizia: Who was the Maltese journalist murdered in a car bomb explosion?

Updated October 17, 2017 21:04:57

Photo: Daphne Caruana Gazalia was described as the "blogging fury" in a 2016 profile. (AP: The Malta Independent)

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Map: Malta

On October 16, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote her last blog post.

"There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate," she wrote.

Less than an hour later, she was murdered in a car bomb attack.

So, who was the woman dubbed "Malta's most controversial journalist"?

She was described as a 'one-woman WikiLeaks'

Caruana Gazalia began her career as a columnist with the Sunday Times of Malta in 1987. She later became associate editor of The Malta Independent, and continued to write columns for the publication after stepping down from that role.

In recent years she maintained her own news blog, Running Commentary, which Politico EU claimed attracted up to 400,000 readers "on a good day" — taken in context, Malta's population is just under 450,000.

Last year, she was included in a Politico EU list of 28 people "shaping, shaking and stirring Europe".

Describing her as "the blogging fury" and a "one-woman WikiLeaks", the publication said:

"No-one is exempt from [Caruana] Galizia's digital cross-examination, and her language is invariably scalding."

What's her connection to the Panama Papers?

Caruana Galizia was the first to report news that Malta government minister Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri were connected to the Panama Papers leak.

Both Mr Mizzi and Mr Schembri had trusts in New Zealand, which held companies in Panama, Caruana Galizia reported.

"She single-handedly brought the Government to the verge of collapse," one MP told Politico EU.

Photo: The investigative journalist was known for her "scathing pen". (Reuters: Darrin Zammit Lupi, file)

This year, she went further, alleging Panama company Egrant was owned by Michelle Muscat, the PM's wife.

The allegations triggered the country's general election in June, according to the Times of Malta.

What do we know about her murder?

The time stamp on Caruana Galizia's last blog entry was 2:35pm, October 16. According to the Times of Malta, the explosion came about half an hour later.

She had just driven away from her home in Mosta, a town outside Malta's capital of Valletta, when her car exploded.

Debris from the Peugeot 108 was scattered across the road and into a nearby field.

Video: Daphne Caruana Gazilia was killed near her home (ABC News)

Her last blog post took aim at Mr Schembri, who was testifying in a libel case.

In the post, entitled "That crook Schembri was in court today, pleading that he is not a crook", Caruana Galizia wrote:

"Mr Schembri is claiming that he is not corrupt, despite moving to set up a secret company in Panama along with favourite minister Konrad Mizzi."

"There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."

What has the reaction been?

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Malta has been left in shock, and the political leaders Caruana Galizia made a career of investigating have been quick to denounce her slaying.

Mr Muscat, who admitted Caruana Galizia was one of his "harshest critics", called her murder a "barbaric attack", amounting to an assault on freedom of expression.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia labelled the bombing a "political murder".

In a tribute, Times of Malta online editor Herman Grech described her as "loved and resented in equal measure in politically divided Malta".

"Her scathing pen spared no punches," he wrote.