Slain Journalist's Laptops Handed to German Authorities

In an unprecedented move, murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's laptops and hard disks were handed over to German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) last month.

Daphne-Caruana-GaliziaDaphne Caruana Galizia (Photo Credit: daphnecaruanagalizia.com)The fate of journalist’s hardware has been a point of contention among Malta’s sharply divided public ever since Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bombing in October 2017. The investigative journalist was well-known for her high-profile exposes of corruption and organized crime. Her murder has rocked the administration of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, several of whose political affiliates featured in Caruana Galizia’s investigations.

Journalists from the Daphne Project have learned that representatives of Caruana Galizia’s family handed over two laptops and three hard disks to German authorities on 27 April. (The Daphne Project, of which OCCRP is a member, is an international consortium of 45 journalists who came together to complete Caruana Galizia’s work).

The public prosecutor’s office in Weisbaden, Germany confirmed this to The Daphne Project, adding that the hardware was handed over “in particular for distribution to the Maltese authorities.”

They also explained that the responsible Maltese magistrate had been informed of the handover.

The Weisbaden Public Prosecutor’s office is involved in international legal proceedings involving the Panama Papers, and has been in contact with the Maltese authorities for legal assistance.

The office explained to The Daphne Project that such a request relating to Caruana Galizia's computer equipment had not yet been filed. However, if one is potentially filed it may come down to submitting backed-up copies of data found on the equipment to Maltese authorities.

Almost at the same time as The Daphne Project was launched in April 2018, Malta Today reported that Maltese police had filed a court application demanding that the magistrate locate and take possession of Daphne Caruana Galizia's laptop. (According to The Independent, Caruana Galizia’s laptop was not found at the scene of her murder.)

The Maltese police’s demand came after Maltese authorities realized that they had taken an old laptop, one that Caruana Galizia had stopped using in 2015.

A few days later, banners appeared in Malta’s capital of Valletta overnight, whose anonymous authors declared that the family was hiding the journalist’s laptop from the police.

This prompted her eldest son, journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia, to post on Facebook that he would rather burn his mother’s laptop in front of the police than hand it over.

“It’s the prime minister’s [Muscat’s] laptop that the police need, not my mother’s.” he wrote.