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Watch: 'I couldn't even see the body in the car' - Matthew Caruana Galizia

Victim's son recalls the horror of October 16

Matthew Caruana Galizia has for the first time recalled the full horror of discovering his mother's remains strewn across a field outside his home in the aftermath of a car bomb.

In an interview with the 'Daphne Project', Mr Caruana Galizia re-lives the moments leading up to her assassination in a brutal bombing outside their Bidnija home six months ago.

The slain journalist's son was with her when she typed out her final blog post: "There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."

"When I heard the explosion, I knew it was a car bomb straight away," Mr Caruana Galizia says.

Sprinting out of his home, Mr Caruana Galizia saw a scene of utter destruction. 

"I kept running and I saw the plume of smoke. It was a tower of thick black smoke… I have never seen anything like it… It looked like the fire of hell.

"I continued sprinting down the lane. I was barefoot. And when I got onto the main road I continued running down until I got to a point where I could see the trees were burning on the side of the road.

"All I could see on the ground was shattered plastic and shattered glass. I could not see a car anywhere."

Standing at the top of a crest near where the bomb was set off, he described seeing a huge ball of fire engulfing a car 200 metres down from where he stood.

The wreckage of Daphne Caruana Galizia's car. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaThe wreckage of Daphne Caruana Galizia's car. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

'The car horn wouldn't stop blaring'

"I ran up to the car. It was just a ball of fire. I thought: ‘Please God, please God, let it be another car.’ I couldn't see the number plate, I could not see the colour of the car, I could not tell what kind of a car it was.

"It was just a ball of fire. I ran around and in the front I could just make out one of the hubcaps and I saw the Peugeot logo and at that moment I thought: ‘Shit’."

His attempt to phone his mother was redirected to voicemail.

Mr Caruana Galizia tried to get inside the burning car, but soon realised it was too late.

"It was just awful. The sound of the horn blaring, it just wouldn't stop. The sound of the fire, the wind was buffeting it. There was no one else around me. I remember after running around the car, I was trying to open the door, stick my hand in.

I expected to see something like the shadow of a person or something, but there was nothing. It was just flames

"I couldn't see anything. That was the worst part. I looked into the car and there was nothing. It was just fire. I expected to see something like the shadow of a person or something, but there was nothing. It was just flames.”

Two policemen arrived on the scene minutes later with a single fire extinguisher between them, yet there was little they could do against the raging inferno.

While struggling with the anguish of not being able to do anything to save his mother, Mr Caruana Galizia slowly began to come to terms with the full scale of destruction surrounding him.

Body parts 'scattered everywhere'

In the ensuing horror, he remembers seeing body parts scattered all around the car.

"I kept trying to find ways out of it. I kept thinking: 'OK, the car is on fire, but maybe its someone else's car.'  Or 'there's a leg on the ground but maybe it is someone else's leg,’ or ‘The car is a Peugeot. Maybe it is some else’s Peugeot.”

"The paint had melted off the car completely, so the little paint I could see was white. So I thought to myself: ‘Maybe it is someone else’s car.’ But I think, that that thought lasted maybe 150 milliseconds and I was just in a complete rage".

That point marked the beginning of a struggle by Mr Caruana Galizia to seek justice for his mother's murder.

On the night of the murder, the family filed a court application calling for inquiring magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera to recuse herself.

Dr Scerri Herrera had been the subject of Ms Caruana Galizia's writings, and the two had long been at loggerheads.

Mr Caruana Galizia is adamant that the culture of impunity he claims is thriving in Malta is what ultimately what led to his mother's death.

"My mother was not killed for expressing her opinion. She was killed for reporting things that were factual. It was not terrorism, it wasn't anything like that, the people who killed here were not deranged, maybe they have psychological problems, but they weren't lunatics.

By putting an end to her life, they were eliminating the last obstacle, the last person who was going to say something about what they were doing, he says.

Mr Caruana Galizia said that as long as the culture of impunity continued in Malta, there would be no deterrent to prevent future crimes.

Journalism, he says, has the power to make the rest of the country face reality.

"It can't bring anyone to justice directly, but it will force people to confront the reality they are living."

Three men were subsequently arrested and charged with Ms Caruana Galizia's murder last December. Court evidence has shown that at least one of the men had his phone tapped by the security services prior to the assassination.

Mr Caruana Galizia says most people agree that the people arrested were the people contracted to carry out the execution. Yet, his mother had never written about them, and in general did not report about the kind of organised crime they were involved in.

He says he believes money was the only motive to carry out the murder.

Asked what the motive of those who paid for the assassination could have been, Mr Caruana Galizia says the people who paid for his mother's assassination did so to extend their impunity.

“If there was anyone who could have turned off the money taps for them, then it was my mother.”

 

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