In an email sent on 22 August 2018, Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of commissioning journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, told his wife in reference to the Electrogas energy deal: “This really was one massive mistake”.
The information emerged as the slain journalist’s son, Matthew Caruana Galizia, was testifying in the compilation of evidence against Fenech.
“It was an email Fenech sent to his wife,” Caruana Galizia told the court, reading excerpts from the emails as objections from Fenech’s legal team were overruled. “I regret it. Failure would have ruined me.”
The correspondence showed Fenech saying: “17 (Black). That was one huge stress. I did nothing wrong legally. I was petrified.”
In his testimony in the compilation of evidence against the man accused of murdering his mother, Matthew Caruana Galizia said that Electrogas project coordinator Michael Kunz referred to Keith Schembri as “Special K” in emails in which he asked Yorgen Fenech to liaise with the former OPM chief of staff.
Kunz was representing Gasol, one of the project’s initial partners that later dropped out and was replaced by SOCAR.
Although the email cited by Caruana Galizia in his testimony did not feature Schembri’s name, the witness was adamant that “Special K” was a reference to Schembri, despite objections from Fenech’s lawyer Charles Mercieca.
Caruana Galizia’s hour-and-a-half testimony in the compilation of evidence against Fenech was largely based on the data leak involving Electrogas and its shareholders, which Caruana Galizia said consisted of over 100,000 files stored on a hard drive that he kept an eye on at all times.
Fenech is accused of having masterminded and commissioned the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who prior to her death had been working on the massive cache of data leaked to her. Her son, Matthew, testified that he was working on the Panama Papers leak, and the two were working closely together before her murder.
Caruana Galizia also told the court that he had handed information relating to 17 Black, the company later revealed to be owned by Fenech and meant to function as a cash funnel for offshore companies owned by former energy minister Konrad Mizzi and Schembri himself, to investigative journalists out of fear of “something happening” to him.
“We were looking at all kinds of data, and one of the things that I want to present to the court, because it helps describe what we were working on at the time, is an email sent by Yorgen Fenech in 2018. This was before Thomson Reuters published the story on 17 Black,” Caruana Galizia said.
According to the excerpts, Fenech had discussed the “huge stress” he was under when the slain journalist started publishing articles on 17 Black in early 2017.
On 9 November 2018, the Reuters report outing Fenech as the owner of 17 Black was published, more than a year after the journalist was assassinated. Fenech was arrested in November 2019 as he attempted to escape Malta on his private yacht.
Matthew Caruana Galizia also referred to Fenech’s arrest for possession of cocaine and speeding in the US in July 2019, with the witness insisting that this was evidence of Fenech’s “erratic behaviour” both before and after his mother’s murder.
The witness also gave further evidence on how Fenech and former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta had a close relationship, pointing towards a specific WhatsApp chat including Valletta and Fenech. The chat was named ‘No Valletta, no party’.
It also emerged that Yorgen Fenech had sought the services of UK lawyers ACK Law to sue David Casa and Manuel Delia over concerns the accusations were damaging to him and Tumas Group.
Like most other references mentioned by the witness, Fenech’s lawyers took umbrage at the way in which the witness was referring to several, distinct events, with the defence insisting that the witness was allowed too much liberty.
Mercieca pressed for the source of the Electrogas leak and the format in which it had been received, but Caruana Galizia said he would rather not talk about it. Mercieca interjected to tell Caruana Galizia “you talk about what we ask you”. Magistrate Rachel Montebello warned defence lawyers not to try to discover the source.
Reporters Without Borders International Campaign Director Rebecca Vincent, who was present at the hearing and was reporting live on Twitter, observed how Mercieca kept laughing openly at some parts of Caruana Galizia’s testimony, noting also how Fenech “stared straight ahead” throughout the witness’ testimony.
The compilation of evidence is now set to continue on 2 August at 10am. Caruana Galizia is set to be cross-examined on 12 August.