VALLETTA: A Maltese journalist responsible for exposing her island’s alleged ties to a tax haven via the Panama Papers was killed by a car bomb on Monday.
Daphne Caruana Galizia died in a blast shortly after leaving her home in Mosta, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.
Despite being heavily criticised by Caruana Galizia, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack.”
Working on the 2016 leak, the journalist alleged offshore holdings in Panama held by Muscat’s wife, the country’s energy minister, and the prime minister’s chief of staff, were used to receive money from Azerbaijan.
Muscat and his wife have denied holding any companies in Panama.
Local police said on Monday the journalist had filed a report two weeks ago saying she was receiving threats.
Caruana Galizia, 53, had been sued for libel by Malta’s opposition leader Adrian Delia, whom she claimed was linked to a prostitution racket, and Malta’s economy minister Chris Cardona, whom she said had visited a brothel while on government business.
During a parliamentary session on Monday, Delia called the death a “political murder.”
The Panama Papers leak revealed the identities of powerful people around the world who allegedly held offshore holdings in Panama.
The murder was met with shock and outrage across the European Union.
“Daphne played a vitally important role in unearthing serious allegations of money laundering and corruption in Malta, including those involving senior figures in the Maltese government,” said Sven Giegold, a Greens member in the European Parliament.
Italian newspaper L’Espresso said the murder shows how an expose “is perceived as a danger by the powerful and by organised crime.”
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani called the killing a “tragic example of a journalist who sacrificed her life to search for the truth”.