Yorgen Fenech, the prime murder suspect in the assassination case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia said he was ready to help fund his own police surveillance if given bail, his lawyer Charles Mercieca told the Court on Thursday.
Mercieca listed this among his suggestions to Magistrate Rachel Montebello in an argument backing his request for bail for Fenech. “Yorgen Fenech is prepared to finance technological solutions for bail, like CCTV,” Mercieca said.
Besides CCTV, he also said that Fenech was ready to fund police officers to stay on guard in order for the prosecution to be assured he would not leave the country.
At the end of the sitting, Montebello denied bail citing ongoing investigations, the fact that the public is still awaiting justice, and the concern that Fenech will abscond. It was the fifth request for bail by Fenech.
Throughout the rest of the sitting on Thursday, persons who were first to arrive on the scene of the murder on 16 October 2017 continued testifying, including officials from the fire and civil protection department, as well as people who lived in the vicinity, and employees from the car rental company from which the journalist had leased her car.
The witnesses described the details they saw on the day in Bidnija. Stationed police officer Frederick Sammut told the magistrate that after seeing a car on fire and a person burnt inside “it was clear that there was nothing we could do”.
Maria Winnie Sammut Grech and Carmel Sammut, whose house sits on a vantage point overlooking the Bidnija road recalled how they grew concerned about an “unusual car” that was parked extremely close to their house a few times in weeks prior to the murder.
They said they never saw it parked there again following the assassination.
In the sitting, while arguing that Fenech should not be granted bail, prosecutor Philip Galea Farrugia from the Attorney General’s office told Montebello that the investigation is still ongoing and “very active” and that they are still talking to people who need to testify.
At the end of the sitting, Montebello ordered the police to summon the persons they are talking to as witnesses.
It is not the first time that monetary offers from Fenech, born into one of Malta’s wealthiest families, have hit the headlines. When speaking about his involvement in the murder, self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma has often spoken about how he was “reeled in” by Fenech’s gifts that included a Rolex watch, a prized parking slot at the Hilton, and five paid trips abroad. Theuma detailed how he had become “suspicious” of Fenech’s gifts when he felt that Fenech wanted to “get rid of him”.
Fenech’s costly gestures even extended to Malta’s highest office and through institutions. Last year, it was revealed that Fenech gave then prime minister Joseph Muscat a limited edition Bvlgari watch worth around €20,000, three bottles of Petrus wine worth around €5,000 in total, and another watch that cost €2,000.
Former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta also joined Fenech on a trip to Kyiv to watch a football match in September 2018, for which Fenech paid.