Malta’s government has offered an “unprecedented” €1m (£890m) reward and full protection for anyone with information on who killed an investigative reporter with a car bomb.
A government statement, issued on Saturday, called the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, whose reporting on corruption targeted the Maltese prime minister and other senior political figures, a “case of extraordinary importance”.
The statement said that, in an “unprecedented measure”, the government was offering the sum to “whomever comes forward with information leading to the identification of those responsible” for the journalist’s death on 16 October.
“The government is fully committed to solving the murder” and to “bringing those responsible to justice”, it said.
A few years ago, the Maltese government offered money in a bank robbery case, but this is believed to be the first time the government has posted a reward in a murder case.
EU officials have denounced Caruana Galizia’s death as an attack on journalistic freedom and insisted that the rule of law must prevail. Malta is widely considered a tax haven and a tempting venue for those looking to launder or hide ill-gotten revenues.
The bomb, which blew up the car Caruana Galizia was driving just a few hundred metres from her home, stunned Maltese citizens, who eagerly followed her blog on corruption to see which business, financial or political figures were the latest in her sights.
Her husband and her three sons – including one, Matthew, who is also an investigative journalist – did not immediately comment on the government’s move. But earlier in the week the family said the Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat, had asked for their “endorsement” for offering a reward.
They responded: “This is how he can get it: show political responsibility and resign … for failing to uphold our fundamental freedoms.” The family added that Caruana Galizia had “no longer felt safe walking down the street”.
They called on the government to replace the senior police commissioner and the attorney general, saying: “Then we won’t need a million euro reward and our mother wouldn’t have died in vain.”
In the past 10 years, there have been 15 mafia-style bombings or similar attacks in Malta, and many of the crimes have gone unsolved.
Caruana Galizia had exposed connections between Muscat’s wife and members of his government to offshore shell companies in Panama. The Muscats have denied the allegations.
Several other senior officials, including a minister and Muscat’s chief of staff, had launched libel suits against the journalist.
In the statement, the government said people could pass on information confidentially and still be eligible for the reward, “as long as this information is corroborated with other independent evidence which would lead to the identification of the person or persons who committed this act”.
FBI agents and Dutch forensic experts are helping Malta with the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death.