Strasbourg (AFP)

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the Maltese authorities to lift defamation charges against the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in 2017, who are now being transferred to her family, in a letter the following day. AFP obtained a copy.

In this letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on 12 September, Commissioner Dunja Mijatovi? recalls that at the time of her death in a car bomb attack, the investigative journalist was involved in more than 40 defamation proceedings.

Thirty are still continuing against his family today, under a provision of the Maltese law that allows the plaintiff to pursue civil proceedings with the heirs of the person implicated.

As the burden of proof is on the accused in defamation cases in Malta, the heirs of the investigative journalist "may have to reveal information about his journalistic work and his sources," Mijatovi?

In cases concerning matters of general interest such as corruption, the Maltese authorities should "consider reversing the burden of proof".

Commissioner stresses that the protection of journalists' sources is guaranteed by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and fears that the fear of prosecution of this type will have a "crippling effect" on investigative journalism in the island.

These lawsuits, which place an "undue financial and psychological burden" on Daphne Caruana Galizia's family, also raise "questions about the commitment of the Maltese authorities to find and bring to justice the sponsors of this dreadful crime," he said. -she.

It therefore calls on the Maltese authorities both to change the defamation law, which currently represents "a real threat to the freedom of the press in the country", and to abandon the ongoing prosecution of the journalist.

Often referred to as "WikiLeaks all by herself", Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed some of the darkest parts of Maltese politics, attacking Muscat but also the leader of the opposition.

After his death, his sons demanded the resignation of the prime minister, accusing him of surrounding himself with scammers and creating a culture of impunity that turned Malta into a "mafia island".

In mid-July, three suspects of the murder of the journalist were indicted, but the mystery remains on the sponsors of the assassination.

© 2019 AFP