Investigating links between governments and organised crime: the murders of Daphne Caruana and Ján Kuciak

PERUGIA – The recent murders of two European investigative journalists have shaken international public opinion. In the 2018 International Festival of Journalism in Perugia, a panel discussion was dedicated to the deaths of Daphne Caruana, in Malta, and Ján Kuciak, in Slovakia, and to the links between government and organised crime against journalists who investigate domestic corruption.

The investigative journalist from La Repubblica, Carlo Bonini, opened the conference exposing two  figures. “Only 4% murdered journalists cases are solved” and that there are more murdered investigative journalists working in domestic corruption affairs than war zone reporters. The Principal of Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford, Alan Rusbridger, considered that the “economically weak press that is losing its investigative muscle,” which does not help to improve the issue of journalist deaths. To face the problem, he proposed the unification and cooperation amongst journalists and the continuation of their work as the best strength to face this situation.  

Regarding the murder of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana, the Italian journalist from RAI 1, Maria Gianniti, asked to the panel why flowers and candles dedicated to Daphne are constantly being removed. In this conversation, Daphne’s sister and Taste&Flair’s journalist, Corinne Vella, stated that the rights to protest are not respected and “people who want to leave a protest message on the memorial are legally free to do so”. This public memorial is not about Daphne case but after her death people regularly gather there, to protest and to remember her legacy. “How many people must die before we recognise that we have a problem,” she said.

The Principal of Oxford stated that what killers wanted to achieve, silencing certain voices, is not succeeding because journalists are continuing the investigations. Talking about Ján Kuciak death in Slovakia, his colleague and journalist from (, Peter Bardy, mentioned that after the murder he started to study the relationship between the Italian organized crime in his country. Thus, the newspaper published and will publish information about the connections between the “politicians from regional level to national level” in Slovakia and the Italian “mafia”. He also compared Eastern Slovakia to Sicily region during the 70s and 80s.   

Corinne said that after the death of her sister the civil society movement has increased in Malta and there are more journalists looking at these less-known stories. She also stated that more work needs to be done in this direction, for instance, about the investigation of Daphne’s death. Rusbridger mentioned the importance of considering the human side of these stories and the “devastations that these assassinations leave behind”. Bardy concluded: “I am Editor-in-chief in a country where journalists can be killed” but “we will continue writing about corruption”.

Pau Llosa