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The reliable sources

The Times of Malta has always cooperated with the police in their investigations whenever its assistance was sought. The same applies to inquiries. When any documents/images not already in the public domain but in the newspaper’s possession are required, the practice is to go back to the sources and seek their permission. It does this because it is fully aware that in its role as a public watchdog and keeping the powers-that-be on their toes it often depends on sources.

It is against this background that the Times of Malta supports the decision made by the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia not to hand over her laptop to the police if there is even the slightest danger that her sources may somehow be compromised or, worse, exposed to any danger.

It bears recalling that, just three days after the fatal car bomb, the Institute of Maltese Journalists, on behalf of all media houses, had filed a court application asking the inquiring magistrate to issue the instructions and make those provisions he deemed fit to protect any confidential information and the identity of Ms Caruana Galizia’s sources. The request was upheld by the magistrate, who former Nationalist MP and the present chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando has now ‘reported’ to the Commissioner for the Administration of Justice.

Coming out of nowhere, on Thursday he wrote to the President saying he “would like” the commission, which she chairs, “to look into what is widely being held as a very serious shortcoming on the part of [Inquiring] Magistrate Anthony Vella”.

Dr Pullicino Orlando, who, a few years back, was involved in a controversy that had seriously dented his credibility, has decided “[it] is now public knowledge” that the magistrate “ignored” investigators’ request to take possession of a laptop withheld from them by family members. “This behaviour may or may not have been influenced by Magistrate Vella’s connections with the aforementioned family,” he told the President.

Dr Pullicino Orlando, like others on the government’s side, appears to be desperate to know what is on that laptop.

The government also wants to know what a former official of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit knows before deciding whether to grant him whistleblower status. Another person also seeking whistleblower status had to flee the country, fearing for her life.

Are not these worrying factors? Is it not also very worrying to learn that the police themselves were concerned that the people arrested during a raid connected to the murder had been tipped off? Was it a mole within the police force or without?

Before ‘analysing’ the information on the laptop, should the police not have spoken to the politicians, politically-exposed persons and other individuals who regularly featured in Ms Caruana Galizia’s blogs?

This newspaper has again been told that the police continue to focus on organised crime as being behind the murder. What makes them concentrate on this theory and completely ignore the possibility – repeat, possibility – of any political connections? Is it perhaps that the more experienced officers realise it would be futile, if not very risky, interrogating people frequenting the corridors of power?

Nobody can take any chances because crooks are everywhere. And reliable sources need to be protected, mainly for society’s sake.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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