Three men charged with murder of Maltese journalist using car bomb

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gives a statement announcing the arrest of eight suspects in the Oct. 16 murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta Malta Monday Dec.4

Three Maltese men were charged last night with killing the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia using a vehicle bomb allegedly triggered from a boat off the coast of Malta.

Police arrested 10 men on Monday in connection with their investigation into the killing.

The three main suspects, who all had previous police records, arrived under heavy police escort at the court late Tuesday and pleaded innocent to the charges, which included murder and possession of explosive material.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a leading investigative reporter whose exposes focused on corruption, including among Malta's elite. The bomb, planted in her rented auto and triggered, according to local news reports, by a mobile telephone that investigators later recovered from the sea, was so powerful that it took four days to collect body parts from a field next to the road.

During Monday's announcement of the arrests, Muscat said a joint team of police, military and security services swooped following a almost seven-week investigation carried out with help from the FBI, Europol and Finnish intelligence. The officials agreed to discuss the case only if not quoted by name because they weren't authorized to release details.

The arrests, made in an operation coordinated among the Police Corps, the Armed Forces of Malta and the Security Services, were the first break in the murder that has drawn widespread outrage and condemnation.

Muscat said the suspects were arrested on "reasonable suspicion" of involvement in Caruana Galizia's killing. It was not clear if the remaining seven suspects would be released or be charged at a later date.

In her final post on Running Commentary, the blog she had written since 2008, Caruana Galizia voiced despair over the cronyism and sleaze she saw engulfing Malta.

The investigative journalist's slaying raised concerns within the European Union about the rule of law in Malta.

Several top news organisations' editors have also criticised Galizia's death, calling for the European Commission to investigate the murder.

Related News: