The Maltese Prime Minister has said he “never complained” about being “under scrutiny” from a journalist who was killed in a car bomb attack.
The sons of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have called on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to resign over the killing.
Ms Caruana Galizia – who reported extensively on corruption on the island and elsewhere, including through the Panama Papers leak – was killed near her home in Malta on Monday.
She was also a harsh critic of Mr Muscat.
Speaking to Sky News, the Maltese prime minister said he had been “under scrutiny” from Ms Galizia’s blog for 20 years but had “never complained about it”.
“We are not trying to shut people up,” he said. “We are thinking seriously about offering a reward, actually, which would be unprecedented in our history, to get information that could solve this murder.”
Mr Muscat denied his administration was corrupt. When asked whether it was clean, he replied: “Totally. Yes.”
Ms Caruana Galizia’s sons Matthew, Andrew and Paul Galizia earlier dismissed a government offer of a reward to help find their mother’s killers – and instead attacked Mr Muscat.
Writing on Facebook, they said the prime minister had presided over the “birth of a society dominated by fear, mistrust, crime and corruption” and said authorities could not guarantee a just investigation into the killing.
“The prime minister asked for our endorsement. This is how he can get it: show political responsibility and resign,” they wrote.
“Resign for working to cripple our mother financially and dehumanise her so brutally and effectively that she no longer felt safe walking down the street.”
An investigative journalist renowned for exposing corruption among the political elite, Ms Galizia had had her bank accounts frozen and faced libel suits from those in government as a result of her work.
Her death was mourned with vigils attended by thousands of people, and authorities have vowed to carry out a full investigation.
In an update on Thursday, a government spokeswoman said police believe the bomb that killed her had been attached to the underside of her car and triggered remotely.
Roberta Metsola, an MEP for the opposition Maltese People’s Party, told Sky News that the PM bore responsibility for the killing.
“The prime minister has tried to come across as being a victim of Daphne’s criticism but the reality is she has levelled extremely grave accusations against him and his government,” she said.
“At the moment there is fear in our country and there is great scepticism about whether the prime minister and his government are genuinely trying to seek justice.”
Mr Muscat has ruled out quitting and has vowed to bring those responsible for the killing to justice, with the help of FBI investigators.