The government is allegedly implicated in the murder of journalist Galizia. Corruption and greed have destroyed Malta’s political culture.
Valletta, pearl of the Mediterranean and oasis for criminals Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo
Anyone who follows the news from Malta these days feels an inner resistance to believe it. What comes to light about the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is too abysmal.
The background is comparatively banal: Two ministers gave a businessman the concession to build a power plant and apparently took bribes for it. So that no one would notice, they set up a shell company in the Caribbean. This is criminal, but it is within the usual international range of corruption. It could have happened anywhere else.
What is hard to imagine, on the other hand, is what happened next. Galizia was about to expose the crooked Panama connection. And it seems that at least one minister was involved in having the journalist murdered by car bomb. And he was able to stay in office for more than two years, even though there had been circumstantial evidence against him for a long time.
Such a serious crime, presumably committed by an incumbent minister of a serious, social democratic party in a stable EU state, is reminiscent of earlier high times of the Italian Mafia. Something like this could theoretically happen elsewhere in Western Europe, too. But it is no coincidence that it happened in Malta. And it has to do with the fact that the governments of the island state stopped being serious at some point.
It started out harmlessly: low tax rates here, a few passport sales there. None of it was illegal, but it wasn’t entirely clean either. The EU criticized a bit, but let Malta have its way. Apparently, this set in motion a dynamic that ultimately led to parts of the government behaving just as criminally as those they welcomed to their island, which had been turned into a tax, gambling and money laundering paradise. With windy government business models tailored to the needs of criminals, corruption spiraled to the highest spheres of power. The end result was the moral abyss.