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[WATCH] Secret Cachia Caruana recording implicated Lawrence Gatt in 1994 attempted murder
Labour broadcast secret recording of RCC implicating former minister in events leading to his assassination attempt in 1994.
16 July 2012, 12:00am
Labour Party media have broadcast what appears to be a secret recording in which former permanent representative to the EU, Richard Cachia Caruana, is heard blaming a former Nationalist minister over circumstances that may have led to the attempt on his life back in 1994.
The recording was broadcast on the eve of an internal hearing inside the PN, where Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando will ask that Cachia Caruana, a chief PN strategist and former personal assistant to Eddie Fenech Adami, is expelled from the party on grounds of "collusion" with Labour ministers between 1996 and 1998.
In the recording, whose date is unknown, Cachia Caruana is heard inferring that his 1994 assassination attempt would have never happened "if it wasn't for Lawrence Gatt and his escaped son" - a clear reference to the former agriculture minister who was made to resign after it was revealed his Mosta constituency office was the site of meetings between his son Etienne Gatt and other suspected drug traffickers, like double-murderer Charles 'Pips' Muscat.
The recording, which may have been unauthorised, opens a window into Cachia Caruana's frame of mind, convinced that the forced resignation of Lawrence Gatt was the background to an act of retribution that resulted in his assassination attempt in Mdina, in December 1994.
"I am not paranoid and I try not to be paranoid but I've been blamed in a particular way that nobody in this party has been blamed, with people jiffissaw [being fixated] behind the problems of Eddie. "Għax remember, when talking about Meinrad and the father and Lawrence Gatt - frankly, fucking hell okay because at the end of the day if it wasn't for Lawrence Gatt and his escaped son, right, nothing would have happened to me, because it was a combination of reasons."
The One News report also named Guido De Marco as one of the other characters mentioned in the recording, although no reference to the former deputy prime minister is made in the recording broadcast by the Labour media.
The attempt on Richard Cachia Caruana's life has been the source of great political controversy. Police investigators accused Meinrad Calleja, a convicted drug trafficker, for having commissioned the 1994 hit in retribution for the resignation of his father, Brigadier Maurice Calleja, from the AFM a year earlier over his drug conviction.
Brigadier Calleja had come under pressure from the government to resign after both Meinrad and his sister Clarissa had been charged of possession and trafficking of drugs along with Joseph Fenech, aka Zeppi l-Hafi.
The theory of retribution offered a calculated plan of vengeance neatly rounded off with the attempt to kill Cachia Caruana round about the first anniversary of Brigadier Calleja's resignation. Earmarked by Calleja would have been acquaintances of Cachia Caruana, the columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was suspect of having used her Times column to force the resignation of Maurice Calleja and Adrian Strickland.
Both had their front doors burnt about the same time as the botched murder. Strickland's wife is the daughter of Brigadier George Micallef, who had passed the message from Castille for Brigadier Calleja to resign.
Caruana Galizia's testimony revealed that she had been assured of the brigadier's resignation by Cachia Caruana, but former Times editor Lawrence Grech had been personally told by the brigadier that resignation was not on the cards, on advice of Guido de Marco, then deputy prime minister.
Relaying the news of divergent opinions between then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami and Guido de Marco, the Sunday Times published an unsigned article quoting government sources confirming that Maurice Calleja would be made to resign.
Caruana Galizia's friendship with Cachia Caruana was crucial in exposing her as the author of the article during the trial by jury.
Meinrad Calleja was accused of contracting a former Nationalist party henchman, Joseph Fenech to carry out the murder. Fenech, who turned State evidence, was granted a Presidential pardon to testify against Calleja, in the process revealing that he was accompanied to Mdina with two other accomplices, Charles Attard 'iz-Zambi' and Ian Farrugia.
Calleja was later found not guilty of commissioning the attempt in a trail by jury.
Calleja had been accused of having commissioned the attack of 18 December, 1994 when Fenech had told the police and the Courts that Calleja had told him in August 1994 to murder Cachia Caruana.
Fenech was however identified by eyewitness Nicholas Jensen, in the trial of Ian Farrugia, as having been on the site of attempted murder.
Attard admitted to the charges and was sentenced to imprisonment, but later recanted although he remains convicted. Farrugia, whose palm-print was found on the car that was in Mdina in the night, after crime scene witness Nicholas Jensen Testaferrata said he could have possibly seen Joseph Fenech stabbing Cachia Caruana. The latter always said he never recognised Fenech as his attacker.
Farrugia also said Attard had been asleep in the getaway car when the crime happened. In Calleja's trial by jury, both Farrugia and Jensen said they had seen Fenech commit the crime.
President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami
At the time, Richard Cachia Caruana was the personal assistant to then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami. Fenech Adami had personally interviewed the chief suspect - his own former bodyguard Joseph Fenech - in a secret meeting in St Julian's. He was told who Cachia Caruana's assailants were, leading to the arrest of Carmel Attard and Ian Farrugia. Attard would later plead guilty.
Fenech named Meinrad Calleja as the man who commissioned the murder. Fenech Adami was adamant that police follow this lead, and in one of his most controversial decisions ever, he awarded Joseph Fenech a presidential pardon in return for his testimony in court.
President Emeritus Guido de Marco
Guido de Marco was at the time deputy prime minister and - according to court testimonies - had been against the resignation of Brigadier Calleja. Together with lawyer Emanuel Mallia, de Marco's daughter Gianella made up Meinrad Calleja's defence team.
PN Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries until 1994, when it was revealed his Mosta office had been the meeting place for a drug trafficking ring. The revelations had featured in the Ciro del Negro diary, the Italian entrepreneur's account of meetings held between Gatt, Calleja and other notorious figures such as double-murderer Charlie 'Pips' Muscat.
Former Police Commissioner George Grech had testified that both Etienne Gatt and Meinrad Calleja had discussed their father's resignations, agreeing that Cachia Caruana had been the driving force behind their resignations. He left Malta in 1995 after refusing to testify in Court in connection with the investigations into the Cachia Caruana attempted murder.
Brigadier Maurice Calleja
Birgadier Maurice Calleja, Meinrad's father, had resigned as commander of the AFM a year before the murder. At the time Police Commissioner, George Grech testified in court that both Meinrad and Etienne felt that Cachia Caruana had been the driving force behind both Brigadier Calleja's resignation and that of Minister Lawrence Gatt.
Son of Brigadier Maurice Calleja, Meinrad was accused of commissioning the assassination attempt in revenge. He was released after he was found not guilty by a jury of six votes to three. Calleja and his sister Clarissa had been charged of possession and trafficking of drugs along with Joseph Fenech. This led to the resignation of their father Maurice in 1993. In 2001 he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for drug trafficking. He has since been released.
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...
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