The defence lawyers of Yorgen Fenech, the suspected mastermind in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed 33 months ago today, grilled middleman Melvin Theuma and asked about an alleged €30,000 payment to the former police commissioner to help him secure a pardon.
Theuma, who was given a presidential pardon to reveal all he knows about the journalist’s murder, denied this.
It was also confirmed today, in a marathon court sitting which lasted over six hours that former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, who had told the court he was a long time friend of Yorgen Fenech, was present at “every single meeting” which former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had with the police on the matter.
Inspector Keith Arnaud said the police never “felt the need to hide anything from him” when referring to Schembri’s presence during said meetings. Former chief of staff Keith Schembri admitted in court in December 2019 that he never declared his friendship with Fenech to the police and denied passing on any information to him related to the murder investigation of journalist Caruana Galizia.
Thursday’s court sitting was supposed to include the testimony of former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. Yet despite sitting outside the court hall for hours, Cutajar was sent away as the hearing dragged on as the defence could not find a particular file on the computer containing a recording.
The defence lawyers are saying this is a recording that Theuma has not yet confessed to and contradicts claims which the middleman made in court.
Inspector Arnoud made reference to two batches of recordings. The first batch was handed over by Theuma and already exhibited in court while another batch was discovered in February. He said an investigation was triggered into this second batch of recordings.
Charles Mercieca, a lawyer who switched from the Attorney General’s Office to Fenech’s defence team, appealed to the court to seek the truth. He said these tapes are about money allegedly paid for the presidential pardon and prove that Theuma lied when he said he had only recorded conversations between Fenech and himself. For some technical reason, the recording could not be played in court.
Earlier during the session, the prosecution objected to Theuma’s pardon being shown in court. Arnaud also confirmed that the condition for Theuma’s pardon is that he tells the whole truth. Asked whether the pardon would be withdrawn if he didn’t, Arnaud evaded a direct answer, saying that Theuma was always warned about the conditions of the pardon.