Ten suspects were arrested Monday over the October 16 car bomb murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s prime minister announced.
Joseph Muscat said eight Maltese citizens were arrested on Monday morning, given a “reasonable suspicion” of their involvement in Caruana Galizia’s slaying. Shortly afterward, he tweeted that two others had been arrested, but didn’t cite their nationality.
Police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case, said the other two are also Maltese.
Overall, Muscat gave almost no details, citing concerns any information could compromise prospects to prosecute the case.
The investigation appeared to be continuing, as police and armed forces had cordoned off an area in Marsa, a small town close to Valletta, the capital.
The arrests, made in an operation coordinated among the Police Corps, the Armed Forces of Malta and the Security Services, were the first known break in the murder that has drawn widespread outrage and condemnation.
Investigators have 48 hours to question the suspects to decide whether to seek charges, in accordance with Maltese law.
Caruana Galizia, whose reporting focused heavily on corruption on the EU island nation, was killed when a bomb destroyed her car as she was driving near her home.
Europol, the European Union’s police agency, sent a team of organized crime experts to help Maltese police investigate the assassination, joining the FBI and Dutch forensic experts.
Just before her death, Caruana Galizia, 53, had posted on her closely followed blog, Running Commentary, that there were “crooks everywhere” in Malta.
The island nation has a reputation as a tax haven in the European Union and has attracted companies and money from outside Europe as well.
Just last week, a visiting delegation of European Parliament lawmakers left the island expressing concerns over the rule of law in the tiny EU member country and issued a warning that the “perception of impunity in Malta cannot continue.”
Low tax rates and a popular government program that allows wealthy foreigners to buy Maltese citizenship has made the country an attractive place for investment, financial and other companies. Authorities, including anti-Mafia investigators in nearby Italy worry that Malta is in the eye of criminals on the lookout for money-laundering schemes.
The journalist focused her reporting for years on investigating political corruption and scandals, and reported on Maltese mobsters and drug trafficking. She also wrote about Maltese links to the so-called Panama Papers leaks about offshore financial havens.