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Top Malta Officials to Skip Rally Honoring Slain Reporter

VALLETTA, Malta — A rally planned in Malta to honor an investigative journalist killed by a car bomb was uniting many of the nation’s politicians with some notable exceptions: the prime minister and the Parliament opposition leader who were chief targets of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s reporting.

Malta’s two dominant political forces, the ruling Labor and opposition Nationalist parties, said they would participate in the rally scheduled for Sunday afternoon to demand justice in the 53-year-old journalist’s slaying six days ago.

However, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told the Labor party’s radio station a few hours before the event’s start time that he would not be attending because he knew the anti-corruption reporter’s family didn’t want him to be there.

“I know where I should be and where I should not be. I am not a hypocrite and I recognize the signs,” Muscat said, adding that he supported the rally’s goals of call for justice and national unity.

Nationalist leader Adrian Delia also has decided to skip the rally because he didn’t want to “stir controversy.”

“Today is not about me, but about the rule of law and democracy,” he said.

Muscat and Delia, while fierce political rivals, have another thing in common: Both brought libel lawsuits against Caruana Galizia. Delia withdrew his pending libel cases last week after her killing.

Caruana Galizia’s family has refused to endorse the government’s offer of a 1 million euro ($1.18 million) reward and full protection to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of her killer or killers.

Instead, the family, which includes a son who is an investigative journalist himself, has demanded that Muscat resign. In their quest for a serious and efficient investigation, Caruana Galizia’s husband and children also want Malta’s national police chief and attorney general replaced.

On Sunday morning, all seven national newspapers had their front pages black in Caruana Galizia’s memory. Printed in bold letters against the black backgrounds were the words: “The pen conquers fear.”

Just before her death, Caruana Galizia had posted on her closely followed blog, Running Commentary, that there are “crooks everywhere” in Malta, whose reputation as a tax haven in the European Union has attracted investment companies and money from abroad.

The journalist focused her reporting for years on investigating political corruption and scandals, and reported on Maltese mobsters and the island’s drug trafficking. She also wrote about Maltese links to the so-called Panama Papers leaks about offshore financial havens.

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Frances D’Emilio contributed from Rome.

Stephen Calleja / AP

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