Melvin Theuma claims he feared Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri wanted to have him killed

Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma says in court that he was fearful Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri were planning to have him killed

Yorgen Fenech is suspected as being the mastermind behind the brutal murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017
Yorgen Fenech is suspected as being the mastermind behind the brutal murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017

Melvin Theuma was fearful Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri might have had him killed, the middleman in the Caruana Galizia murder case said in court on Monday.

Theuma, who was giving testimony during the compilation of evidence against Fenech - the man charged with masterminding the journalist's assassination - said he feared Fenech and Schembri, then chief of staff to Joseph Muscat, might employ hit men to get rid of him to prevent him from saying anything about the crime.

Fenech, Theuma said, assured him however that he would not be harmed.

Theuma also told the court that Schembri and former deputy police chief Silvio Valletta had tipped off Fenech that he (Theuma) would be raided by the police. 

The middleman also said that he had asked Fenech to speak to then police chief Lawrence Cutajar to not have the police search him and his family during the raid.

Cutajar, Theuma said, had previously asked Edwin Brincat, known as il-Ġojja - Theuma's friend and confidant - whether he had any information about recordings which were in the middleman's possession.

In his testimony, Theuma also told the court that Fenech had once sent him a MaltaToday article reporting on a survey which showed Labour were surging ahead in terms of support.

Theuma said this was done to show that, if Labour were in power, Fenech and he would be protected.

15:14 Melvin Theuma's testimony will stop here for today. The court has been adjourned. The next sitting will take place on 11 June at 12pm Massimo Costa
14:58 It looks like things could be wrapping up for today - the parties concerned are now discussing the date of the next sitting. Massimo Costa
14:57 Prosecuting inspector Keith Arnaud says that it was not possible to have known from beforehand how much time they would have needed to look through the transcripts of the recordings played in court today. Massimo Costa
14:55 He tells the magistrate that he had been taken for the police depot at 7:30am this morning, before being transported to court. Massimo Costa
14:55 Theuma complains to magistrate Rachel Montebello that he is very tired after hours of testimony. Massimo Costa
14:54 Melvin Theuma leaves the courtroom for a few moments but re-enters shortly after, since there are more recordings to be heard Massimo Costa
14:52 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi's line of questioning turns to the infamous party Joseph Muscat held at his Girgenti residence in February 2019, for which Yorgen Fenech was a guest, and in which he gifted the then prime minister fine Petrus wine worth thousands of euro. Theuma says he got to know about the Girgenti party after Fenech told him about it as Theuma was driving him to the actual party. Massimo Costa
14:51 The magistrate now asks Theuma whether Fenech had ever mentioned to him that there were a number of people involved in the murder. Theuma replies that Fenech had not mentioned this. "He never mentioned Keith Schembri [as being implicated in the murder], he only told me he got the information from him," Theuma tells the court Massimo Costa
14:47 Theuma tells the court that he and Yorgen Fenech also felt worried and troubled when the monthly protests organised by civil society, demanding justice for Daphne, took place. Massimo Costa
14:45 Azzopardi now notes that, on 16 October 2018 - the one year anniversary since Daphne's assassination - Fenech was now replying to message sent to him by Theuma. Asked why, Theuma says Fenech was troubled on that occasion Massimo Costa
14:41 The subject switches to a MaltaToday story, which Fenech sent to Theuma, on a survey conducted by the newspaper - which showed Labour were surging ahead in terms of support. Asked by Azzopardi why Fenech would send such a survey result to Theuma, Theuma tells the court that the fact that Labour would win the general election would mean that they were protected. Massimo Costa
14:39 Azzopardi asks Theuma about another text message he received from Yorgen Fenech, where Fenech told Theuma that he was "going to also stick his neck out for him about this money laundering business too." Azzopardi asks what the "also" referred to, with Theuma clarifying that Yorgen was implying he would be sticking his neck out for Theuma for both the money laundering and Daphne's murder Massimo Costa
14:31 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi continues cross-examining Theuma. Azzopardi asks him about a text message where told told Yorgen Fenech that he had lost "75". Theuma clarifies that this was a reference to a sum lost in a lottery. Massimo Costa
14:27 Theuma insists he would put Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri in the same group. They were very big friends, he adds. Kurt Sansone
14:26 Asked why he was using the word "them", Theuma explains it referred to the hit men that Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech might have employed to kill him. Kurt Sansone
14:25 On 17 October, Theuma wrote to Fenech: "I don't want to worry you, I am very sad, I wasn't in the wrong, government is launching another inquiry." But Fenech assured him that as long as he is there no one would hurt him. Kurt Sansone
14:21 On the public inquiry into Daphne's death, Theuma had said it would put him in the grave. "They would eliminate me before something came out," Theuma says. But Fenech had assured him that "no one would hurt you". Kurt Sansone
14:19 Theuma says Yorgen tried giving him a lot of things, which he sent back. He says Fenech would give him the items so he could sell them. These included two clocks, one for Melvin's son and an arloġġ tal-lira, which are now in police possession. Kurt Sansone
14:18 Asked by the magistrate how he linked Muscat (il-Koħħu) with Keith Schembri, Theuma says he arrived at that conclusion following the Kenneth Camilleri incident. Kenneth Camilleri had formed part of the prime minister’s security detail and was a close friend of Keith Schembri. In previous sittings it emerged that Camilleri had gone to visit Theuma with a promise that bail would be granted to the Degiorgios and Muscat. Kurt Sansone
14:11 Theuma is asked to testify on the written message: "...I have nothing against KK, despite me knowing that he wants to get rid of me". He says that he felt Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri were trying to get rid of him with Vince Muscat, il-Koħħu, helping them. Kurt Sansone
14:08 Melvin Theuma says he would be depressed on the situation, but would calm down when he went to Yorgen's. Kurt Sansone
14:00 Switching to another conversation, Melvin Theuma says he asked Yorgen whether it was a good idea to arrange a meet up with one of the Degiorgios in prison. Yorgen told him he would try to give a mobile to one of the Degiorgio brothers in prison, but this never happened. Kurt Sansone
13:59 Different parts of transcripts are being read out with the parties jumping from one conversation to another. Journalists do not have access to the transcripts so it is hard to sometimes understand the context. Kurt Sansone
13:58 Melvin Theuma says that one time he had been asked by Yorgen to stay guard outside Keith Schembri's house. Theuma had informed Fenech that he was going to Gozo with his family. But Theuma also asked Yorgen why the need to stay guard and Fenech answered that Schembri didn't trust anyone. Kurt Sansone
13:56 Azzopardi says the prime minister answered an hour later, saying that the matter will be seen to. Kurt Sansone
13:55 Jason Azzopardi asks whether an email had been sent to prime minister Joseph Muscat over an issue with the common space of an apartment block. The email was sent to the PM's personal email, with Theuma saying he has no memory of it, stating that his partner Charmaine must have sent it. Kurt Sansone
13:49 They are now speaking about the incident when Theuma went to wait for Schembri outside Castille. Kurt Sansone
13:48 Theuma says he referred to Keith Schembri as 'KK'. Kurt Sansone
13:43 Azzopardi asks: “Who was the guy who informed you about the arrest?” Theuma replies that he is 99.9% sure that it was Yorgen Fenech. Kurt Sansone
13:42 Melvin Theuma confirms that the list of locations where the raids were going to be carried out were never given to him. Kurt Sansone
13:41 Theuma says that Yorgen told him he would be doing something about his partner’s and her daughter’s arrest. Kurt Sansone
13:41 Theuma says the arrest had to be made by Ray Aquilina, an Economic Crimes inspector. Kurt Sansone
13:40 Melvin Theuma says his agreement with Yorgen Fenech was that after his arrest, he would be asked four questions, and everything would be done with (barra bid-daqq). Theuma is speaking of his own impending arrest on money laundering charges. Kurt Sansone
13:39 Theuma says he was not prepared to dispose of the pen drives, stating he was always prepared to reveal all, “as Johann knows”. Kurt Sansone
13:39 Theuma says Fenech was refering to the pen drives. In the conversation, there were also calls that discussed the money laundering arrest. Kurt Sansone
13:38 Jason Azzopardi asks about a message from Yorgen to make sure “everywhere is clean, not only on this.” Kurt Sansone
13:37 Melvin Theuma starts to cry. Kurt Sansone
13:37 Theuma says Fenech was meant to give him a list of locations were police would be raiding him. Theuma says he was angry at the lack of information provided by Fenech. He was also infuriated that his partner was investigated by the police. “What did they have to do with the case?” Kurt Sansone
13:35 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi asks Theuma on the date of the arrest and about a transcript of messages between him and Yorgen Fenech. Date of message: 12 November 2019 Theuma asks – “You forgot me? (Nsejtni sieħbi?)” Yorgen Fenech responds – “Relax we will make it (Serraħ rasek, naslu)” Kurt Sansone
13:32 Melvin Theuma enters the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
13:07 The magistrate enters the court room. Kurt Sansone
13:06 Yorgen Fenech re-enters the courtroom. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, and her sister, are also present. Kurt Sansone
12:18 The court takes a short break. Kurt Sansone
12:17 In reply to a question, Theuma says he believes an amnesty is given by parliament and government. Kurt Sansone
12:14 Theuma tells the court that he had asked Yorgen Fenech what would happen if the accused were given an amnesty. Kurt Sansone
12:13 The context of this is the request for amnesty that Vince Muscat had made. Muscat and the Degiorgio brothers are facing murder charges. They have been kept in custody ever since their arrest in December 2017 and at one point Muscat had asked for an amnesty to tell all he knows. Theuma started getting very concerned when he learnt that Muscat was willing to speak. Kurt Sansone
12:03 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi asks Theuma when the issue concerning the amnesty cropped up. Kurt Sansone
12:00 “I wanted to tell him (Keith Schembri) to tell Yorgen Fenech to switch on his mobile,” Theuma says. He also thought of telling Ray Fenech (Yorgen’s uncle), but didn’t do it. Kurt Sansone
11:58 Theuma says he once went to wait for Keith Schembri outside Castille to ask him to tell Yorgen Fenech to switch his phone on. However, he didn’t meet him. Kurt Sansone
11:57 He insists he cannot testify on Schembri’s involvement in the murder. Kurt Sansone
11:57 Asked by the magistrate about Keith Schembri and how he came to mention him by name, Theuma says he arrived to the conclusion after hearing the news about Schembri. “I arrived to the conclusion after what I heard… I jigsaw puzzled his involvement in my mind.” Kurt Sansone
11:50 Asked what would happen to the recordings on the laptop, Theuma says he doesn’t know. “I dont know how to use it,” he admits. Theuma adds that duplicate recordings on the USB sticks might be due to his lack of knowledge in using laptops. Kurt Sansone
11:49 Asked how he learned to record on his mobile phone, Theuma says he asked his partner’s daughter to teach him how. He also says that he used to transfer the recordings on to the laptop of his partner’s daughter so that he would put them on a USB stick. Kurt Sansone
11:46 Asked what he would do with the recordings, Theuma says he gave a copy to Yorgen Fenech only. “I never gave them to anyone else.” Kurt Sansone
11:45 Theuma says that he met with the police commissioner at the depot when he was arrested. “Before the arrest, I swear I never met the police commissioner,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
11:41 Theuma returns to the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
11:41 Theuma is asked to leave the courtroom so that Arnaud explains the recordings to the magistrate. The inspector says that recordings of conversations between Theuma and Johann had been deleted by the witness. However, the police have found the deleted recordings and are investigating them and will be shared at a later date. Kurt Sansone
11:38 Theuma says he bluffed by using the police commissioner’s name with Yorgen Fenech. “I told Yorgen the commissioner knew about the recordings. I admit it, I bluffed using the police commissioner. I wanted to make it seem people were on my side.” Kurt Sansone
11:32 The day Melvin Theuma was arrested, Edwin Brincat was also arrested. Kurt Sansone
11:30 Theuma says he told Edwin Brincat to speak to that guy from Luqa (ta’ Ħal Luqa). He says the reference was to then police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. Kurt Sansone
11:29 Asked by the magistrate whether the informant was Keith Schembri or Silvio Valletta, Theuma says he doesn’t know. Kurt Sansone
11:29 Asked who would have given Yorgen Fenech that information, Theuma says he doesn’t know. Kurt Sansone
11:26 Theuma says he is 99.9% certain that Yorgen had told him the police were coming for him on the 16 November of last year. Kurt Sansone
11:25 Theuma says Johann had told him that he would be giving him a paper with a list of locations the police would be investigating. He says he had an argument with Yorgen Fenech the night before he (Theuma) was arrested. Kurt Sansone
11:19 When Theuma was arrested, Yorgen Fenech had assured him he would be waiting for him outside the depot with pastizzi. Kurt Sansone
11:18 He also says that Yorgen Fenech was prepared to lend him money so he wouldn’t lose the complex of flats. Kurt Sansone
11:18 Theuma says that as a result of the money laundering investigation in his regard, an account he had with HSBC was closed and Bank of Valletta had withdrawn a sanction letter for the purchase of a San Ġwann apartment complex. Kurt Sansone
11:15 “I was on the brink… On the day they killed her, my life ended,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
11:15 Theuma says that his paranoia nearly led him to organise a meeting between Alfred Degiorgio and Yorgen Fenech. The context of this is Theuma’s fear that he was the only one the Degiorgios knew since he had been the middleman between Fenech the murderers. Kurt Sansone
11:13 Theuma insists that he was close to telling police on multiple occasions but would remember that Yorgen Fenech is well known (jaf in-nies). “I sometimes drove to the Pieta police station but turned back... I admit, I wasn’t cut out for this,” he says. Kurt Sansone
11:11 “The time I spent with Johann (a Yorgen Fenech business associate) at his house, I used to be crying most of the time,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
11:10 Theuma speaks of his concerns and paranoia. When he used to speak to Yorgen Fenech about his worries, Fenech would tell him “they can kiss our… (ibusulna l-...)”. Kurt Sansone
11:08 Theuma says that on the day he was arrested, he was convinced that he wanted to testify. He says that he had insisted to speak to Inspector Arnaud. Asked why the insistence to speak to Arnaud, Theuma replies: “Because I knew he was investigating the case.” Kurt Sansone
11:06 Asked what he told him: “Everything (mhux kollox!)” Kurt Sansone
11:05 The witness also mentions an Edwin Brincat, a friend of his, who he says he would go to speak to on his problems. Brincat goes by the nickname, il-Ġojja. Kurt Sansone
11:04 “I was very scared… Yorgen Fenech is a lion and I am a mosquito, he knows everyone and I know no one,” Theuma tells the court. Kurt Sansone
11:03 Theuma says the Degiorgios only knew about him. The brothers were not privy of Yorgen Fenech. He adds that he was very paranoid that he would be caught. Kurt Sansone
11:01 Theuma says that if the Degiorgios got an amnesty he would be blamed for everything: ‘Nispiċċa nibilgħu.’ Kurt Sansone
11:00 Melvin Theuma confirms that he had expressed concern about the Degiorgios being caught and feared they would spill the beans on the case and be given an amnesty. Kurt Sansone
10:59 On the day of the recording Melvin Theuma had given Yorgen Fenech two bottles of whisky as a sign of gratitude for the €5,000 holiday, Fenech had paid for him. Kurt Sansone
10:51 The court moves on to another recording. Kurt Sansone
10:49 He also recalls that on the day of the Camilleri murder, he and Yorgen Fenech were on a plane on the way to France. Kurt Sansone
10:45 Theuma tells the court that had the Degiorgios been imprisoned on the other murders and bombs, he would have been happy because they wouldn’t be imprisoned for the Daphne Caruana Galizia case. Kurt Sansone
10:44 Nobody has been charged with the Camilleri murder. Kurt Sansone
10:44 Theuma says that in separate conversations, Fenech had mentioned the ‘Bomba tas-Sapuna’ murder. Ostensibly, this is a reference to the car bomb that killed John Camilleri, known as Giovann tas-Sapuna, in Buġibba. The murder happened in October 2016. Kurt Sansone
10:41 “I first heard about Cardona, on television after the whole Acapulco situation… I assumed it was him after the news,” Theuma replies. Kurt Sansone
10:41 Jason Azzopardi asks: how did you know it was Chris Cardona? Kurt Sansone
10:40 Questioned by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Theuma says that after asking Fenech what would happen if they were caught, Yorgen Fenech told him that he would see to these things himself - “L-affarijiet tiegħi narahom jien.” Kurt Sansone
10:39 Theuma says he would have been happy to know that police were closing in on someone else not on himself and Yorgen Fenech. Kurt Sansone
10:39 Arnaud asks Theuma why he would have been happy to know that someone else was involved in the murder. Kurt Sansone
10:29 The defence says Arnaud can’t suggest what is being said to the witness. Kurt Sansone
10:28 A recording is played but Melvin Theuma says he hasn’t heard anything. Inspector Keith Arnaud says that an article and a newspaper were mentioned but Theuma insists he did not understand the recordings. Kurt Sansone
10:22 As the recordings continue, children and dogs barking can be heard in the background. Kurt Sansone
10:20 Confirming what is being said on the recording, Melvin Theuma tells the court that Yorgen Fenech told him that he thinks they found Cardona’s mobile. The reference is to a burner phone, which allegedly contained only one number on it – Chris Cardona’s – and which was used for communication between the former minister and one of the murder suspects – Alfred Degiorgio. Kurt Sansone
10:18 Theuma says that had they found Chris Cardona’s mobile, and he was involved in the murder, he would have been very happy. Kurt Sansone
10:17 Inspector Arnaud asks Theuma what the conversation was about. Kurt Sansone
10:16 On the mobile found in the sea near the potato shed, Melvin Theuma his heard telling Yorgen Fenech: ‘Xieraq tiegħi’ Kurt Sansone
10:15 The recordings continue being heard. Kurt Sansone
10:09 Theuma tells the court whether there is another way to listen to the recordings since he is not understanding what is being said. He was provided with headphones by the court but insists he is still not understanding what is being said. Kurt Sansone
10:08 Melvin Theuma is finding it difficult to understand the recordings. Kurt Sansone
10:06 Melvin Theuma says Yorgen Fenech told him that he was being informed by “sieħbi” (my friend). Asked by the magistrate who ‘sieħbi’ was, Theuma says it was Keith Schembri, the former OPM chief of staff. Kurt Sansone
10:01 Theuma says that he had been told by Yorgen Fenech that police had found mobiles linking the Degiorgios to “around seven murders”. Kurt Sansone
10:00 Inspector Arnaud asks Theuma what he knew about the mobile phones found in the sea. Kurt Sansone
09:59 Theuma says Yorgen Fenech told him they had found a mobile phone used between Alfred Degiorgio and Chris Cardona. Kurt Sansone
09:58 Theuma says that when the police found mobile phones in the sea near the potato shed in Marsa, he feared it was his mobile. The potato shed is the location where the Degiorgio brothers and Vince Muscat used to hang out and where they were arrested in December 2017. Kurt Sansone
09:57 After hearing a recording, Melvin Theuma tells the court that he heard someone say they found Chris Cardona’s mobile phone. Kurt Sansone
09:49 Theuma is expected to testify, based on the recordings he had made himself of conversations between him and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. Kurt Sansone
09:46 Pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma has entered the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
09:42 Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi and prosecutor Keith Arnaud are discussing some of the recordings and transcripts. Kurt Sansone
09:42 Yorgen Fenech is inside the courtroom, wearing a mask. As is customary, there is also heavy security. Kurt Sansone
09:35 Good morning. Kurt Sansone


The compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech is continuing this morning.

The former Tumas Group director stands charged with masterminding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

During the previous sitting on 1 June, Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the journalist’s 2017 assassination, claimed that Chris Cardona had passed on money, through another middleman, to Alfred Degiorgio, known as il-Fulu - one of the three men accused of executing the car bomb murder. 

Theuma claimed that Mario Degiorgio, brother to Alfred and George Degiorgio, had told him that David Gatt, a lawyer who worked in Cardona’s firm, had sent a message to the Degiorgio brothers warning them that if they revealed anything about Cardona’s involvement, he could have them killed. 

Cardona denied the claims saying that they were nothing but “nonsense, based on lies that don't even make sense.” 

READ ALSOCardona dismisses Caruana Galizia murder claims as ‘nonsense, based on lies’

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is hearing the compilation of evidence against Fenech.

The defence lawyers are Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

The prosecution is being led by inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra, assisted by the Attorney General.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.

READ MORETheuma recalls Silvio Valletta at Yorgen Fenech’s Żebbuġ ranch after Daphne murder