Keith Schembri must be investigated for obstruction of justice

That Schembri would continue to evade even any judicial consequences for his actions is not only intolerable, but also the cause of possible vitiation of the ongoing court procedures

Keith Schembri may have been aware that Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind in the murder long before the police had suspected the businessman was involved
Keith Schembri may have been aware that Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind in the murder long before the police had suspected the businessman was involved

Melvin Theuma’s testimony amounts to clear evidence that OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri was privy to details about the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation from long beforehand; and may even have tipped off main suspect Yorgen Fenech.

Separately, Dr Adrian Vella – GP to both Schembri and Fenech – has been arrested for his part in helping the pair communicate through secret notes. This suggests that an attempt was made to obstruct the course of justice; yet while some of the actors involved are now facing charges for this crime, Keith Schembri himself is so far not even being considered a suspect in this case.

At this stage, it is incomprehensible why Schembri has not been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.

Among the shocking details to emerge in court this week was the fact that Yorgen Fenech knew that police had traced the SMS that detonated the bomb which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia less than a month after the murder; and before the police raid in Marsa where brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat were arrested.

Moreover, Theuma said Fenech was constantly informed of developments in the murder investigation, including in the months when investigators had no clue yet that the businessman himself was involved in the crime.

The implication is that whoever was informing Fenech, knew of the businessman’s involvement long before the police did.

But Theuma went a step further: saying that, during a conversation, Fenech had mentioned that Keith Schembri was his informant.

“Fenech once named Keith Schembri as the person informing him. You can refer to the recordings but I don’t quite remember the context,” Theuma told the court.

This was at a time when Theuma was getting jittery because one of the three men accused of the murder – Vince Muscat – started speaking to the police. The three hitmen only knew Theuma, and were unaware that the murder was ordered by Fenech.

In fact it was Fenech who informed Theuma that Vince Muscat was revealing everything.

Such was the extent of the sensitive insider information that Fenech was being fed that in April 2018, Fenech informed Theuma that there was a Cabinet meeting taking place which was discussing a presidential pardon for Vince Muscat.

Fenech had also informed Theuma that their phones were being tapped by the Security Service and instructed him to use WhatsApp, where phone calls are encrypted.

At one point Theuma was visited by a certain Kenneth Camilleri from the Office of the Prime Minister, and Johann Cremona, a business associate of Fenech. Camilleri had come with a promise for bail and €1 million each for the three men in custody for the murder.

Theuma told the court he believed that it was Schembri who had sent Camilleri. It transpires that this Camilleri once formed part of the Prime Minister’s security detail.

This shocking testimony by a witness who is obliged to tell all the truth under the terms of a presidential pardon, implies that the prime minister’s former chief of staff was passing on sensitive information received during security briefings to Fenech.

It also implies that Schembri may have been aware that Fenech was the mastermind in the murder long before the police had suspected the businessman was involved.

Added to the fact that Schembri was joined at the hip to Yorgen Fenech on account of his ownership of offshore companies destined to receive moneys from Fenech’s 17 Black – and therefore deeply involved in the corrupt set-up that would result in Caruana Galizia’s murder – this all amounts to compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Schembri’s part.

The act of passing on security service information to third parties is in itself a clear breach of national security, not to mention abuse of power. Clearly, there is more than enough prime facie evidence to place this former public official under investigation.

The fact that no such initiative has been taken strongly suggests that the authorities remain reluctant to press charges against politically exposed persons – though they show no such reluctance to take action against other people involved in the same crimes.

This can only perpetuate the impression – which has been sadly vindicated – of institutional paralysis.

It is bad enough that neither Keith Schembri nor prime minister Joseph Muscat has to date shouldered any real political responsibility for their own failures: beyond an overdue resignation (on Schembri’s part), and Muscat’s promise of an ‘imminent’ departure in four weeks’ time. 

But that Schembri would continue to evade even any judicial consequences for his actions is not only intolerable, but also the cause of possible vitiation of the ongoing court procedures.

It cannot be that evidence continues to be ignored, even though it comes out in open court, as part of a testimony for which a Presidential pardon has been granted. Given the lack of any real repercussions to Theuma’s testimony, one can only wonder why the pardon was even issued at all.

Above all, however, justice cannot be done (still less be seen to be done) when the institutions involved refuse to take the necessary action. In this case, the action to be taken is clear and unequivocal.

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