Counter Terrorism Unit Head George Cremona told the public inquiry board on Wednesday that roping in the FBI to provide assistance in the investigation of the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was “[his] personal initiative”.
Cremona told the Court that on the same day of the assassination, he began contacting American counterparts.
“I was sure that if they come to Malta they could provide services for triangulation and data mining. It was my personal initiative. I contacted counterparts in Rome. I informed [former] Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar,” he said.
Cremona presented documents to back up his testimony, including emails between him and the FBI counterpart in Rome. Cremona added that no one had given any instructions to reach out to the FBI. This contradicts what former chief of staff Keith Schembri had said under oath.
Schembri had told the court in December that he was the one to involve the FBI in the case.
This is not the first time that Schembri’s testimony has been contradicted. In the compilation of evidence against prime murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, a version of events given by the Fenech family doctor Adrian Vella also conflicted with another testimony by Schembri in June.
Schembri had denied that he passed on a note to Vella to give to Fenech. Yet the Fenech family doctor confirmed this had happened.
Asked by lawyer Jason Azzopardi about a specific event in 2019, Cremona revealed that on 29 September of that year, the US Homeland Security had contacted him and informed him that they were investigating a case where firearms, ammunition and a suppressor (silencer) were purchased on the dark web.
Cremona said it was “difficult” to find out who the buyer was, since it was paid for in Bitcoin and the buyer was anonymous, but it was to be delivered to “George Fenech, 21st floor Portomaso, St. Julians”.
Cremona noted to the board that George Fenech, the father of Yorgen Fenech, had already passed away at the time.
It was difficult for the police to follow through on the investigation since the website was taken down due to other investigations by the Guardia di Finanza.
“It was the same period when they knew [middleman] MelvinTheuma was going to be arrested,” Azzopardi noted.
In September, The Times of Malta had reported that US investigators had traced online searches for a deadly poison back to a device owned by Fenech.
Sources had told Times of Malta that an FBI investigation last year had flagged online searches for a poison known as potassium cyanide, by Fenech, just a few months before he was arrested for commissioning the Caruana Galizia death.