Yorgen Fenech compilation: Court orders Keith Schembri to testify in next sitting

Middleman Melvin Theuma says Mario Degiorgio, brother to the two accused of executing Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder, told him former minister Chris Cardona was reached out with a bail request

Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech
Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech
14:35 The magistrate ordered that in the next sitting Johann Cremona, Keith Schembri and Kenneth Camilleri be produced as witnesses. David Hudson
14:35 Bail is refused. David Hudson
14:35 A decree was issued. The court considered that it was the second request for bail by the accused. “He is right to say that bail is the rule,” said the magistrate. The court said it is aware of several dangers... The court said that it had given weight to the fact that the investigations are still very active when it refused last bail request. This is still the case and it emerges that there are possibly greater risks of tampering of evidence. David Hudson
14:03 The court suspended the sitting for a few minutes, retiring to chambers to deliberate on bail. David Hudson
14:03 Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Azzopardi says that Caruana Curran is trying to argue for bail by attacking the credibility of a witness. Caruana Curran replies: “We have covered almost two years worth of sittings already.” “The recordings are also preserved and under absolute control of the court”, added Marion Camilleri. David Hudson
13:57 "We had a Prime Minister and his chief of staff resign because of this case. They are still running around whilst my client is still under arrest. It is not fair, says Fenech’s lawyer. David Hudson
13:56 Gianluca Caruana Curran makes submissions. Fenech has a clean criminal record, rigorously obeyed the conditions of his police bail. “From what it looks like, this case is about Melvin Theuma telling the truth when the tapes themselves are showing him to be lying.” David Hudson
13:53 On the bail request, the prosecution said it was in full agreement with the written reply given by the AG on 31 Jan, that the bail not be requested at this stage because of the many people involved and witnesses yet to testify. David Hudson
13:53 At the moment the parties are making practical arrangments with the court about the recordings, in order for Fenech to be able to listen to them in prison. There's still a request for bail to go. David Hudson
13:44 The prosecution requests that this evidence be exhibited with the next note of renvoi, a note containing a list of witnesses and evidence to be produced. The court upholds the request and makes it clear that this evidence must be brought at that time. Measures to safeguard the investigations would be made by the court. David Hudson
13:41 The transcript for these recordings is yet to be provided, which is why the court has suspended the deposition. David Hudson
13:39 The court is told that the next recordings will mention a number of people, all of whom are under investigation. David Hudson
13:39 The court suspends Theuma's deposition once more. No recordings were heard. David Hudson
13:31 Theuma has been summoned for the third time to the stand. David Hudson
13:30 Magistrate Montebello says she wants to hear another recording. David Hudson
13:22 Theuma steps off the stand. His testimony is over. David Hudson
13:22 Azzopardi suspends his questioning. David Hudson
13:22 Azzopardi asks him about whether Yorgen had ever spoken about coordinating attacks on the Caruana Galizia family. "No, no never, for sure,” he replies. David Hudson
13:20 Theuma replies: "No, never. Never, never, never." David Hudson
13:20 Azzopardi makes reference to an 'Alex' that could be heard on the recording. He asks whether he was aware that Keith Schembri's assistant was called Alex. "Was Alex Muscat ever mentioned to you David Hudson
13:18 Theuma says the Degiorgios kept getting money. Yorgen Fenech gave it to him and he gave it to Mario Degiorgio for his brothers. David Hudson
13:15 "I never asked," Melvin Theuma says. David Hudson
13:14 "How did you arrive at Cardona? There are many other ministers who are lawyers." David Hudson
13:14 Can you explain to me how people in prison accused of murder decided to speak to a minister (Cardona) to help them with bail? Azzopardi asks. David Hudson
13:14 News reports had mentioned Chris Cardona and people related to fuel smuggling and so on, he says. David Hudson
13:14 Theuma says he mentions that number arbitrarily and didn't know anyone else apart from Yorgen and himself. David Hudson
13:13 Azzopardi presses him on why he made reference to 'another four' involved in the murder. David Hudson
13:13 "Perhaps the Degiorgios had roped in another four with them," he says. "I had no idea how the Degiorgios were going to go about the murder." David Hudson
13:12 "It’s probably because of what I heard in the news and in the shops. People were talking and saying others were involved in the crime. But under oath, I was alone in it, I swear," Theuma says. David Hudson
13:12 Azzopardi asks who the 'four others' he mentioned were. David Hudson
13:10 Theuma explains that he had told Yorgen Fenech to speak to Joseph Muscat about the bail issue but Fenech had replied in the negative, saying that that would be the "worst thing to do." David Hudson
13:09 Mario Degiorgio, he says, had told him, "Gewwa huma, gewwa kulhadd" (if they're in prison, all will be there too), threatening to tell all. David Hudson
13:08 Azzopardi asks Theuma whether Vince Muscat knows about any of the others involved in the murder. David Hudson
12:59 Azzopardi trudges on with his questioning. David Hudson
12:59 "I don't know." David Hudson
12:59 Theuma explains that Mario Degiorgio had told him that they filed a bail request before Judge Mizzi. "Why was Yorgen Fenech so convinced that if the Degiorgios were tried by jury, they would win it?" Azzopardi asks him. David Hudson
12:52 Azzopardi tells Theuma that he was heard in several recordings telling Yorgen to not be calm. Theuma clarifies: “So that maybe he could speak to someone to guarantee their bail,” he says on the Degiorgios. David Hudson
12:47 "I don't know," Theuma replies. David Hudson
12:47 Why would they be better though, replied Azzopardi, referring to the change in magistrate. David Hudson
12:46 "I didn't ask him," Theuma says, referring to Yorgen's words. David Hudson
12:46 Azzopardi asks about a change in Magistrate which was mentioned in the recording. "Anzi ahjar ha jigu issa," the recording said. Why? David Hudson
12:44 Glenn Bedingfield's blog post “Where is the Daphne laptop" was written on 16 April, says the lawyer. The witness agrees. David Hudson
12:42 Azzopardi asks him whether he remembered any public banners about Caruana Galizia's laptop. This was around April 2018, in the same week that Alfred Degiorgio, il-Fulu, had filed a judicial protest to have the laptops brought in from Germany. David Hudson
12:39 Azzopardi is establishing a timeline of Theuma's statements. David Hudson
12:38 The chief inspector has no further questions. Jason Azzopardi will examine the witness next. David Hudson
12:38 George Degiorgio's weakness was "coke, alcohol, and women", said the witness, as he clarified a point with the inspector. David Hudson
12:37 "I was ready to tell Mario that I’d give him money but if he wanted to go rat on me, he should go ahead. I didn't care anymore. I never got the courage to do it. I just bowed my head," Theuma says with his voice breaking. David Hudson
12:34 The witness nearly breaks down in tears as he says this. David Hudson
12:32 "From the moment she died my life was over. I would calm down for a day and it would start all over again," Theuma says. David Hudson
12:32 "I couldn't stand it. I couldn't stand it. So many times I was going to come and speak to you, sir [Arnaud]. I was tired of my life. Tired of being involved in this job... I couldn't sleep and pills weren't helping. I was constantly afraid. I had had enough.” David Hudson
12:30 He is asked about an Alex who is mentioned in the recordings. Theuma replies that it must be a mistake in the transcript as nobody called Alex was involved in the plot. David Hudson
12:29 Arnaud asks Theuma about what was said about Caruana Galizia's laptops. The middleman replies that it was 100% better for all of them had the laptops been brought back to Malta because they would have undoubtedly confused people more. David Hudson
12:23 "But as far as I knew, they knew me not Yorgen.” He is saying that the Degiorgios were not familiar with the Tumas magnate. David Hudson
12:22 Fenech was funding the Degiorgio's legal campaign. Mario Degiorgio even gave him three receipts of William Cuschieri. David Hudson
12:22 Lawyer William Cuschieri had charged the Degiorgios €75,000 he said. David Hudson
12:21 "Cardona midhla maghhom aktar mix-xih. L-iehor ma kienx fil-qorti." (Cardona is more familiar with them than ix-Xih. The other wasn't in court) David Hudson
12:20 If anyone can help them, Cardona knew all of the judges, Theuma says. David Hudson
12:18 "Mario had told me that Cardona had ignored them over the bail. They had sent a message to him over the bail but he ignored them." David Hudson
12:17 "Because they started to mention him on TV," he replies. "But I swear, I didn't speak to him or his people." David Hudson
12:17 The court asks Theuma why he also mentioned Chris Cardona at some point. David Hudson
12:14 Our court reporter, Matthew Agius, has found that the transcriber confirmed that the word 'Keith' and not 'Kiefer' had been used during the recording. The context in which the former chief of staff's name was mentioned is unclear. David Hudson
12:13 "To me, there were four more aside from me and Yorgen..." David Hudson
12:13 "I don't know who the others are. I felt there were more," Theuma says. David Hudson
12:12 Theuma is asked by the court about the "other four" he mentioned who were possibly involved in the murder, besides the two Degiorgio brothers and Vince Muscat. David Hudson
12:10 We are now two hours into the sitting. The recordings will continue to be heard. David Hudson
12:10 Melvin Theuma is summoned again. David Hudson
12:09 It's unclear what the transcriber is confirming and whether the word 'Keith' or 'Kiefer' was used in the recording since the press does not have a copy of the transcriptions. David Hudson
12:08 The transcriber takes the stand and confirms what she had transcribed before. David Hudson
12:06 The magistrate orders everybody to be silent whilst the transcriber listens to the recording again through her headphones. David Hudson
12:06 The court is back in session. David Hudson
11:52 The court is on a short break as it sorts some technical issues. David Hudson
11:46 Lawyer Marion Camilleri protests that they are getting stuck on a single word. The court replies that it is pertinent to the case at hand and overrules her objection. David Hudson
11:46 The court transcriber is brought back to settle the "Keith" or "Kiefer" issue, to confirm whether either one or the other of the words was used in the recordings. David Hudson
11:43 He is sent out of the courtroom. David Hudson
11:43 The magistrate has suspended the witness's deposition. David Hudson
11:43 Theuma says that Yorgen had once said, "I think Kohhu (Vincent Muscat) doesn't know about the others involved." David Hudson
11:39 “Mario once he asked me if I was involved in the murder. I had denied it,” Theuma says. David Hudson
11:38 Theuma says Mario never mentioned who he meant when he referred to individuals his brothers had served. David Hudson
11:36 Theuma was worried that the Degiorgios were going to spill the beans. It depended on how calm they were in prison. Their brother, Mario, told him that his brothers, Alfred and George, had served everyone but found no help when it came to their bail. David Hudson
11:34 "With his position, he knows a lot of people. But Fenech had said it was a bad idea," Theuma says. David Hudson
11:33 The court asks whether Theuma expected Yorgen Fenech to solve the situation via the Prime Minister. David Hudson
11:33 Theuma replies: "To the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat." David Hudson
11:33 Arnaud asks Theuma about a part of the recording: “when you say ‘int bicca wahda ma’ l-iehor” [you’re very close to him as well], who are you referring to? David Hudson
11:29 "I always had the fear that when they had these things [bill of indictment, bail] they would tell all about me," Theuma says. David Hudson
11:25 Mario Degiorgio had told him that the compilation of evidence was due to finish soon, he said. David Hudson
11:24 The conversation was about the Degiorgio's bail request which was going to be decided at the time of the recording. David Hudson
11:22 "I started to worry about the laptops being brought to Malta and I had asked Yorgen what he thought about it. He said it was better to bring them here.” David Hudson
11:20 Now Arnaud is reading snippets from the conversation transcripts and asking the witness about them. David Hudson
11:20 Theuma explains that the recording was made in 2018 or 2019. They were at Fenech's Zebbug farmhouse, he said. David Hudson
11:18 The recording ends. The magistrate asks Theuma whether he had any reservations about the transcript. “I didn’t pay any attention it it,” he replies. David Hudson
11:18 Fenech is expected to make another request for bail today. With Theuma's testimony still incomplete, it is hard to see it being granted. David Hudson
11:18 Caruana Galizia was killed with a car bomb outside her house in Bidnija as she was driving away in October 2017. David Hudson
11:17 Theuma is heard saying that it was better to bring the laptops back, referring to the journalist’s equipment… “il-laptops aħjar iġibuhom, mija fil-mija” (it’s better to bring the laptops, 100%). Then Fenech can be heard replying that on the laptops they would find other people who would have a reason to kill Caruana Galizia. Theuma was also heard saying, “il-karozza ghalfejn halliha barra?” (why did he leave the car outside?), referring to Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, leaving her car outside the drive. David Hudson
11:15 Proceedings are slow moving today as the recordings are being played; plenty of rasping and clanging sounds and some guttural sounds in the background as chief investigator Arnaud attempts to find something tangible and comprehensible before he pauses the audio. David Hudson
11:04 The only thing that is clear in the recordings is the blasphemy that is uttered by the two speakers. David Hudson
11:00 The recordings are muffled and difficult to decipher. Theuma had previously said that he used to hide his phone in his sock as he recorded the meetings he had with Fenech. David Hudson
10:58 Yorgen Fenech is in a huddle with his lawyers, gesticulating and, at times, sharing a laugh. David Hudson
10:56 The recording is being played. David Hudson
10:56 Azzopardi continues: before the witness testifies as to what was said, he wants the transcriber to testify to what she heard. This to avoid complications down the line, he says. David Hudson
10:54 Azzopardi remarks that at a point the name 'Keith' or the word 'Kiefer' is heard. The defence objects to Azzopardi speaking as he is parte civile and has no locus standi. David Hudson
10:51 Chief Investigator Keith Arnaud wants to hear a piece of the recording again. It is very important, he says. David Hudson
10:49 Another snippet: "The FBI arrived this week but they said nothing." David Hudson
10:42 Theuma is referring to Mario Degiorgio, brother of Alfred and George Degiorgio, the two brothers accused of executing the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. David Hudson
10:42 They're discussing the bail request. "Huh xeba jissikkani..." (His brother is tired of pressuring me) David Hudson
10:41 A quick snippet of the recording: "within 3 weeks to a month they'll get bail... we can't keep on waiting." David Hudson
10:36 The recording isn't too clear; Melvin Theuma identifies his voice in the recording and confirms that the other voice belongs to Yorgen Fenech. David Hudson
10:33 Melvin Theuma takes the stand as a recording starts playing. David Hudson
10:30 We are allowed to live blog the recordings, however. David Hudson
10:30 That transcriptions or recordings ending up in the hands of third parties is unacceptable, says the magistrate. David Hudson
10:28 The court also said that as some of the transcripts appear to have been leaked to the media — this breached an order it had given in a previous sitting. For this reason it reaffirmed its order that the recordings and their transcription are prohibited from publication. The breach of this order is to be deemed contempt of court. David Hudson
10:27 The court expressed its concern about some media comments about the transcripts, and the inaudible audio. She asks the parties whether there is any issue with the recordings and transcripts. Jason Azzopardi denies giving a comment to the media about this. The lawyers of all parties agree that they have no reservations about the appointment of the persons and transcribers. David Hudson
10:22 The court is being presented with the new, amended, transcripts of the phonecalls. The previous versions had contained errors and were the cause of some confusion in the last sitting. David Hudson
10:22 In the last sitting, the court heard that Fenech told Theuma that a mobile phone retrieved from the seabed after the Marsa arrests contained just one phone number: Chris Cardona's. Cardona, the former minister, said he had not been questioned by police. David Hudson
10:18 The magistrate enters, all rise, and the sitting begins. David Hudson
10:18 There are five heavy security officers inside the courtroom: two are sitting on a bench behind the Tumas magnate while another two flank him on the bench. A fifth officer is standing guard by the door to the hall. David Hudson
10:15 We are currently waiting for magistrate Rachel Montebello to emerge from chambers and begin the sitting. David Hudson
10:08 More recordings of phonecalls made by Melvin Theuma are going to be heard today. David Hudson
10:07 The courtroom players, bar the magistrate, are all in place in a very crowded hall 11 this morning. The proceedings are being held in the small courtroom due to trouble with acoustics in the last sitting. David Hudson
10:07 Good morning. We are inside the courtroom, waiting for the sitting to start. David Hudson

The court has ordered the testimony of former chief of staff Keith Schembri to be heard in the next sitting of the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech after his name cropped up once again in middleman Melvin Theuma's secret recordings of his conversations with Fenech.

The transcriber of the phone conversations took to the stand during Thursday's sitting and confirmed that the name 'Keith' was uttered during a conversation Theuma had had with Fenech. The context of this mention was blurry since the recordings were muffled and largely incomprehensible.

Theuma had previously said that he had kept the phone which had been recording the conversations in his sock. 

The court also heard how Mario Degiorgio, brother to the two accused of executing Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder, told him that former economy minister Chris Cardona was reached out with a bail request but that this went ignored by Cardona.

The compilation of evidence in proceedings against Yorgen Fenech continued on Thursday as Theuma's recordings continued to be heard.

In the previous sitting, Theuma confirmed that former chief of staff Keith Schembri had informed the mastermind that one of the men accused of executing the murder of the late journalist was talking to the police and requesting a presidential pardon.

Theuma himself had requested a presidential pardon to reveal everything he knew in the case. 

Testifying in court, Theuma said Schembri had also informed Fenech of discussions between then prime minister Joseph Muscat and then justice minister Owen Bonnici on a possible pardon for Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu.

Yorgen Fenech is being charged with masterminding the murder, being complicit in executing the explosion of a bomb and being part of a criminal organisation. 

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