The middleman involved in journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination today told the Court that former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri “certainly” knew in 2018 of the involvement of suspected mastermind Yorgen Fenech.
Referring to recordings which were recorded by Theuma shortly after suspected contract killer Vince Muscat started speaking up about the killing in 2018, Theuma told the Court that according to Fenech, Schembri was calling him (Fenech) on a daily basis as he was worried about him.
The victim’s lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, pointed out to Melvin Theuma that if Schembri was calling Fenech so regularly in 2018 because he was worried about him, then the former prime minister’s aide must have known of Fenech’s involvement in the assassination. “Certainly (bil-fors),” Theuma replied.
Theuma also repeated a story Fenech had told him about the police having found some burner phones underwater near the ‘potato shed’ in Marsa following the arrest of those suspected of planting the bomb in December 2017. One of the phones only had the telephone number of Labour MP Chris Cardona registered on it, Theuma said.
Theuma’s testimony counters what Schembri told the Court last December when he denied leaking any information obtained from police briefings on the murder investigation to Fenech. Schembri had also said he was unaware that this had taken place.
Schembri had told the Court that he was only aware that Fenech was a suspect when he had tried to escape on his yacht in December 2019; he had only known for “weeks”, Schembri said.
Schembri had also played down his friendship with Fenech, saying “I have a lot of friends”. He had dodged questions about how many times he called Fenech a day, saying that he “worked long hours”. In the same testimony, he denied ever having passed on information to Fenech.
He went on holiday with Fenech about “three times in seven years,” on Fenech’s yacht “once in seven years” and he could not recall how many times he visited Fenech’s farmhouse.
For the first time in the recordings, on Thursday, Fenech also expressed his fear of being caught. In the recordings, Fenech said that Schembri was speaking to him on a daily basis. Fenech also said, “the government is going to panic”. Theuma could not confirm why he had said that.
The recordings also show Schembri telling Fenech that he did not do anything wrong (referring to the murder).
“Keith is going to tell me, as he has told me every time I have spoken to him… I told him did I do something bad? He told me not bad, he told me you should have told me before,” Fenech is heard saying in the recording.
The dialogue in the recording also makes reference to the civil society demonstrations which had taken place following the assassination. In what seemed like reassurance, Fenech told Theuma that only about 3,000 people were frustrated. “Not even Adrian Delia was behind it,” he is heard saying.
The recordings also revealed some talk about the Cabinet discussion on Vince Muscat’s Presidential pardon. The names Cardona, ‘Owen’ and ‘Ix-Xih’ (previously revealed to refer to Joseph Muscat) are mentioned in the recording.
“The second this guy speaks up, Cardona will tell him no,” Fenech said in the recording.
They go on to say that “Owen” (possibly referring to Minister Owen Bonnici) would not help in this regard.
A new individual was mentioned in today’s recordings – a driver of Keith Schembri who once drove Schembri to Fenech’s farmhouse. The individual is described as having shaved hair and driving a Peugeot.
In the recordings, Fenech is heard saying that Schembri had walked in fire for him.
Asked about Theuma’s knowledge of ‘Tal-Maksar’, named as a possible supplier of material for the bomb, Theuma said that he had only heard about them in that one message sent to him by Fenech. Fenech had told Theuma to “put pressure” on Tal-Maksar (brothers Adrian and Robert Agius) about Vince Muscat speaking up.
William Cuschieri, the lawyer of the Degiorgios, was also present in the courtroom, as was Fenech’s wife and many members of the Caruana Galizia family.