An investigative journalist in Malta, who used the Panama Papers to expose her country’s links to offshore tax havens, was killed in a car bombing on Monday, Reuters reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died after a powerful bomb blew up her car, the police said. Local residents said the 53-year-old had just left home when the bomb exploded, sending her car flying into a field. Just 30 minutes earlier, Galizia had published her final blog post, accusing the prime minister’s chief of staff of corruption, The New York Times reported.

“There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she wrote in her an influential political blog, Running Commentary. “The situation is desperate.”

The Times of Malta reported that Galizia had filed a police report two weeks ago about threats that she had received.

The bomb sent the car flying into a field. (Credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)
The bomb sent the car flying into a field. (Credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)

Earlier this year, Galizia accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife of benefiting from a secret Panamanian shell company. She alleged that the firm was used to deposit unexplained payments from Azerbaijan’s ruling family. Both Muscat and his wife denied the accusations, but Muscat had to call snap elections to restore confidence in the people.

On Monday, the prime minister called her killing a “barbaric attack on press freedom”. “Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “But nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation had agreed to help the local police investigate the murder, Muscat said.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia – himself the subject of negative stories by Galizia – claimed the killing was linked to her reporting. “A political murder took place today,” The Guardian quoted Delia as saying.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced a reward for information on her killers.