Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech was receiving inside information about one of the men on trial for the killing journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia from former chief of staff Keith Schembri and Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta, middleman Melvin Theuma told a court.
Theuma, who was granted a presidential pardon for his collaboration with the police, was testifying on Wednesday morning in the compilation of evidence of Fenech, who is charged with being the mastermind of Caruana Galizia’s murder in October 2017 when she was killed by a car bomb. He was being interrogated about a number of recordings that he had made and that were presented to court.
Replying to questions by Magistrate Rachel Montebello and Police Inspector Keith Arnaud, who is leading the murder investigation, Theuma said he felt betrayed by Vince Muscat – one of the three men facing a murder trial – as he felt Muscat was going to blame him.
Theuma was then asked by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who is representing the Caruana Galizia family, whether he knew the source of Fenech’s information that Muscat was speaking to the police. “If I am not mistaken Fenech had told me that he got the information from Keith Schembri and Silvio Valletta,” said Theuma, confirming that he would refer to him as “Valletta l-ohxon” (Valletta, the fat one). He also said that Schembri had informed Fenech that the police had arrived at the point where they were ready to take action on people involved in the murder.
Valletta recently hit the headlines after his wife Justyne Caruana had to resign from Gozo Minister when Valletta’s close ties to Fenech were revealed.
Theuma also spoke about his meeting with Kenneth Camilleri, who used to form part of former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s security detail. Theuma met Camilleri through Johann Cremona, however could not say who sent Cremona. During that meeting, Camilleri walked away to make a phonecall and Theuma was convinced he was speaking to Schembri. Theuma told the court that was convinced Camilleri was sent by Schembri.
At that first meeting, Camilleri told Theuma to inform Mario Degiorgio – the brother of suspected killers Alfred and George Degiorgios – immediately, which he did. Communication between Degiorgio and Theuma reached such an extent that Theuma felt “he would rather die”, and said that he was considering taking Degiorgio to speak to Keith Schembri in Mellieha, to take the responsibility of guaranteed bail off his shoulders.
The following day, Theuma went to Johann Cremona’s garage where there was Camilleri. Cremona showed three mobile numbers and asked whether Theuma recognised any of them. Theuma identified one as his old mobile phone number, to which Cremona replied “then you are the mastermind behind the Caruana Galizia murder”, Theuma said.
Theuma told Cremona that it was not him but Fenech because he was the one paying Alfred Degiorgio. Asked by Magistrate Montebello whether Theuma knew from where Cremona got hold of the mobile numbers, Theuma said no.
The next day, Theuma was at a restaurant when Cremona turned up and told him that Camilleri wanted to meet him in Zejtun. Theuma said that he did not go as he feared for his life.
At one point in the recordings, Theuma was heard telling Fenech that he would take Degiorgio to Mellieha. Questioned by Arnaud, Theuma said he preferred that Schembri confirmed the bail guarantee rather than himself remaining in that position. “I couldn’t continue my life like that, I would have rather been dead at that point,” said Theuma, referring to the constant messages from Degiorgio.
Theuma was questioned about a line in the recordings where Fenech says “they were angry, Joseph, everyone”. Theuma confirmed that the “Joseph” referred to Joseph Muscat and it was implied that they were angry because of the murder.
Judge Antonio Mizzi was also mentioned in the recordings. Theuma explained that Degiorgios said that the bail request was going to happen under Mizzi. In a line in the recording, Fenech told Theuma that Schembri went to speak to Mizzi because of “ix-xih” – a reference to Joseph Muscat. The specific of why he went to speak to him were not elaborated on.
Theuma also revealed that Fenech had sent him a message telling him to put pressure on Maksar, who allegedly made the bomb. Montebello pointed out that Theuma did not know about the manufacturing of the bomb, but Fenech did, despite Theuma being the point of contact between Degiorgio.
The first recording was played in court last week and Theuma could be heard telling Fenech about the bail and the need for one million euro for the three murder suspects.
Theuma said that, during his meetings with Camilleri, he was so convinced that the information was coming from Schembri that he did not question it.
During Wednesday’s sitting, court-appointed transcriber Margaret Debattista presented the transcriptions of the recordings. Five have been done so far out of a total of 60 audio recordings and 70 video recordings.