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A journalist who exposed her country’s links to the shady world of offshore banking has been killed in a fiery car bombing.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was driving near her home on the island of Malta around 3 p.m. on Monday when her vehicle exploded, with the charred remnants of the Peuguot found on the side of a rural road, according to local media.
The 53-year-old had earned praise for her blog, which reported on the Maltese political leadership’s connections to the Panama Papers, a landmark trove of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack-Fonseca that shed light on how the world’s powerful sluice their money around the globe.
Her reports often centered on a scheme that reportedly saw those close to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat receive money from the the ruling family of Azerbaijan.
Her last article, published less than an hour before her death, covered a libel case from the chief of staff to the prime minister accused of setting up a secret company in Central America.
“Everyone knows Ms. Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally as she was for others too,” Muscat said Monday before adding that nothing could justify the “barbaric act.”
Muscat, who denies any wrongdoing after reports that his wife also set up an offshore scheme, promised justice and said that the FBI has been called for help with the investigation.
As of early Tuesday no suspects had been named in the case.
The island’s opposition leader Adrian Delia called the bombing a “political murder,” and local Maltese media reported that Galizia had filed a police report about receiving threats two weeks ago.
She had worked as a columnist for Maltese newspapers since the 1980s, though her political blog launched in 2008 had brought her the most acclaim.
Earlier this year Politico had named her one of 28 people “shaping, shaking and stirring Europe.”
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said after her death that Galizia was a “tragic example of a journalist who sacrificed her life to seek out the truth. She won’t be forgotten.”
Thousands attended a vigil for Galizia on Monday night, expressing sympathy both for their country and for her family – a husband and three sons.
Those tasked with investigating her death include officials who she had previously targeted, and Malta Today reported that her family has asked for magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera to remove herself from the case.
The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 27 journalists who have been killed so far in 2017.