The family of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia sued police to remove Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta from the case investigating her death. Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA
Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The family of a Maltese journalist who was killed by a car bomb have sued police to remove an officer who is married to a government official from the investigation.
Daphne Caruana Galizia's family requested Malta's constitutional court remove Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta from the murder investigation because his wife, Justyne Caruana is minister for the island of Gozo.
The family contends Valletta's involvement presents a possible conflict of interest as he and his wife were frequent subjects of Caruana Galizia's work, which focused on corruption in the country.
"The Deputy Commissioner is a politically exposed person as defined at law, by virtue of the fact that he is married to a cabinet minister, that is, the Minister for Gozo, the Hon. Justyne Caruana... [Deputy Commissioner Valletta] is also the person appointed to the board of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit," the family's application read.
Caruana Galizia, 53, died when her car exploded shortly after she left her home in Bidnija on Oct. 16. She filed a police report 15 days before her death saying she had been threatened.
Her family's court filing claims Caruana Galizia's death was a "targeted killing" of a journalist whose work criticized Malta's anti-money-laundering agency, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.
Caruana Galizia had previously highlighted the fact that Valletta serves on the board of the FIAU, while criticizing the board for containing members eatured in the Panama Papers dossier.
Her family also alleged police weren't keeping them updated on the investigation, while stories were being "fed to newspapers."
"Heading an investigation like this, with a stain on its impartiality and independence will likely lead to the absence of a fair hearing with regards to the plaintiffs," the family said.
Caruana Galizia's family also filed a criminal complaint saying Neville Gafa, an employee of the Office of the Prime Minister followed the journalist and her husband and took photos of them the day before her death.
The family said Gafa's behavior qualified as stalking under Malta's criminal code, citing photos posted Facebook as evidence.