Maltese officials have made ten arrests in connection to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb in October in what her supporters claim was a plot to silence her probe into the Panama Papers financial leaks and how they implicated Malta’s prime minister.
According to Maltese Prime Minster Joseph Muscat, police made the arrests in the town of Marsa and in the areas of Bugibba and Zebbug, BBC News reported. His government previously offered a $1.2 million reward for information regarding Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Police now have 48 hours to interrogate the ten people in custody to determine whether they should be released or arraigned, Malta Today reported. They were arrested in an early-morning raid that saw security forces descend on their targets by air, land, and sea, setting up road blocks and cutting off maritime escape routes.
During a Monday news conference, Muscat claimed that all of the people arrested had prior criminal records, while some of them were already known to police. When asked if they had directly participated in Caruana Galizia’s murder, though, Muscat hesitated to answer.
“I have a clear idea of what they did and who they are, but I cannot give out more details at this time,” he said. “Let us not forget that, in the past, such statements by a prime minster had been used in the accused’s defense.”
Muscat also offered thanks to the international agencies who lent their support to the investigation, including the FBI and Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation.
Some have speculated that Muscat himself was involved in the murder of Caruana Galizia due to her devoted coverage of his alleged illegal ties to the ruling family of Azerbaijan. At the helm of the most widely-read blog in the country, Caruana Galizia was a powerful investigative journalist who emerged as one of the main figures involved with the damaging Panama Papers leak.
Her son, Mathew Caruana Galizia, blasted Muscat for heading a “mafia state” that allowed his mother’s assassins to carry out such a brazen attack with little risk of reprisal.