Anti-graft blogger killed by car bomb
Caruana Galizia, 53, ran a hugely popular blog in which she relentlessly highlighted cases of alleged high-level corruption targeting politicians from across party lines. "There are crooks everywhere. The situation is desperate," she wrote in a blog published on her site just half an hour before an explosion tore into her car.
Locals said Caruana Galizia had just left her house and was on a road near the village of Bidnija in northern Malta when the bomb detonated, sending her car flying into an adjacent field.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who faced accusations of wrong-doing by Caruana Galizia earlier this year, denounced her killing, calling it a "barbaric attack on press freedom.”
He announced that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had agreed to help local police investigate the killing and was flying experts to the island as soon as possible.
"I will not rest until I see justice done in this case," he said in a statement, calling for national unity.
Around 3,000 people held a silent, candle-lit vigil yesterday evening in Sliema, just outside Valletta.
The hashtag Je Suis Daphne circulated widely among social media users on the island of 400,000 people, the European Union's smallest state.
"Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way," Muscat said. "The only remedy for anyone who felt slandered was through the courts."
Muscat sued Caruana Galizia after she wrote blogs earlier this year saying his wife was the beneficial owner of a company in Panama, and that large sums of money had been moved between the company and bank accounts in Azerbaijan.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia said the blogger was the victim of a "political murder.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he would offer a 20,000 euro reward for information leading to the conviction of Caruana Galizia's killers, and European politicians expressed dismay at her death.