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Montevideo, September 21st 2018 - 04:15 UTC

Investigator of murdered Maltese journalist Caruana Galizia fears for his life

Monday, January 15th 2018 - 10:39 UTC
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Jonathan Ferris is seeking full police protection amid concerns he could be targeted after looking into her claims against top political figures. Jonathan Ferris is seeking full police protection amid concerns he could be targeted after looking into her claims against top political figures.
Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb near her home on 16 October. She was known for a blog in which she accused powerful figures of corruption. Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb near her home on 16 October. She was known for a blog in which she accused powerful figures of corruption.

A former anti-corruption investigator in Malta has told BBC Newsnight he fears for his life after looking into allegations made by murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Jonathan Ferris is seeking full police protection amid concerns he could be targeted after looking into her claims against top political figures.

 Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb near her home on 16 October. She was known for a blog in which she accused powerful figures of corruption. Prosecutors are looking into the possibility that her murder was carried out by hitmen on the orders of someone angered by her reporting.

The Maltese government has vowed to bring her killers to justice and offered a €1m reward for information.

One of the investigations Caruana Galizia was working on at the time of her death centered on allegations against the Maltese prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and a senior minister called Konrad Mizzi. Caruana Galizia said they were both financial beneficiaries of secretive “shell” companies registered in Panama.

Mr Mizzi and Mr Schembri were named in the Panama Papers, a massive data leak from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2015. Both deny any wrongdoing and say their companies were never used.

Mr Ferris says he was looking into the case last year while working at the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), Malta's anti-money laundering agency. But he was sacked in June from the FIAU because, he believes, his work threatened to uncover sensitive secrets.

“We believe there was political interference,” he told the BBC's Newsnight program.

The FIAU has denied this. The anti-money laundering agency told the BBC that Mr Ferris's dismissal was based “solely on an objective and comprehensive performance assessment.”

But Mr Ferris has now threatened to reveal information he discovered - ”should something happen to me.”

“Following 16 October, and what happened to Daphne Caruana Galizia, I divided my work and my information into six different envelopes with specific notes,” he said.

“They are distributed to six members of family and close friends, and should something happen to me abruptly - say I'm killed - all that information will go public at once.”

Jason Azzopardi, a shadow justice ministry spokesman, said Mr Ferris's fears that he could be targeted were “realistic”.

Caruana Galizia alleged that a company owned by the Azerbaijani president's daughter paid US$1m to a Panama company ultimately owned by the Maltese prime minister's wife, Michelle Muscat.

Speaking to the BBC Newsnight's John Sweeney, Mr Muscat categorically denied that he or his wife had used secret offshore accounts to hide payments from Azerbaijan's ruling family - and hit back at Caruana Galizia's reports.

“I know I am in a quite uncomfortable situation having to criticize someone who has been killed brutally.” But he added: “She didn't have any evidence because what she said was totally incorrect.”

Mr Muscat also said Caruana Galizia's source was discredited. Caruana Galizia did not produce any documentary evidence to back up her allegation against the prime minister's wife.Three brothers - George and Alfred Degiorgio, aged 55 and 53, and Vincent Muscat, 55 - have been charged with murder and pleaded not guilty. Investigators say the killers detonated the bomb using a mobile phone on a boat offshore. They are looking into whom the suspects had contact with in the run-up to the killing.

Categories: Politics, International.

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