Yorgen Fenech compilation of evidence: new recordings discovered in February this year

Cross-examined by Yorgen Fenech's defence, murder middleman Melvin Theuma denies paying the former police commissioner €30,000 to secure the presidential pardon

Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech
Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech

Police discovered new recordings made by pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma in February this year and these are still being analysed, the court heard today.

Inspector Keith Arnaud, the lead investigator in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case, said the recordings were found after Theuma told them to look further.

It is understood that the recordings were found on electronic equipment that had been seized from Theuma’s relatives last year.

Arnaud told the court that his team was still sifting through 10 terabytes of data.

The inspector was being cross-examined by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech’s defence team on Thursday morning. Lawyer Charles Mercieca led the cross-examination.

Arnaud confirmed that during briefing sessions on the Caruana Galizia case with then prime minister Joseph Muscat at Castille, former chief of staff Keith Schembri used to be present.

The inspector also confirmed that when Theuma was arrested in November last year on the basis of a money laundering operation, €600,000 in cash had been found in his possession, apart from a box containing the recordings.

The second witness to be cross-examined was pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma, who was asked by Fenech's defence lawyer whether he had passed on money to the former police commissioner to secure the pardon. Theuma denied that he paid €30,000 to Lawrence Cutajar.

Meanwhile, the defence wanted the court to play a recording, which it claimed contradicted Theuma's testimony. However, the file could not be found in the court's copy and the court expert who extracted the files has been summoned to testify about the discrepancy.

Cutajar, who was due to testify, will be summoned on another day after the sitting dragged on for more than seven hours.

The next sitting will be held on Wednesday 22 July at 9:30am.

Fenech stands charged of masterminding the murder of Caruana Galizia.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding.

In the previous sitting Fenech’s business associate, Johann Cremona told the court that Fenech had once named “il-Biglee” as the middleman between Chris Cardona and one of the hitmen in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.

READ MORE: Theuma discussed pardon with Fenech’s business partner in preparation for arrest

On Wednesday a technical formality faltered Fenech’s case against a Cabinet decision denying him a presidential pardon. The First Hall of the Civil Court, presided by Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale, upheld the State Advocate’s plea.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist, died in a car bomb explosion outside her home in Bidnija in October 2017.

READ ALSO: Cabinet decision to not grant presidential pardon to Yorgen Fenech upheld

17:38 That is all for today. Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
17:37 The case continues on Wednesday at 9:30am. Kurt Sansone
17:37 The sitting continues next Wednesday 22 July at 9:30am. Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi points out that there is the public inquiry that day. The court cannot hear the case on another date, it says after checking the diary. Kurt Sansone
17:24 The court adjourns. Mercieca requests the court to give the closest possible date in the interests of justice and bearing in mind that his client is still under preventive arrest and presumed innocent. Kurt Sansone
17:21 The court rejects this request, saying that the best evidence has to be submitted. Before anything else it is to hear the technical expert to testify how he carried out his duties. The court is also suspending the appointment of Alvin Cardona who was engaged to optimise the recordings. Kurt Sansone
17:19 Defence lawyer Caruana Curran suggests that Theuma listens to the beginning of the recordings which the defence team has. “We don't know where they came from, we were given the same copies by the court,” he says. Kurt Sansone
17:17 The magistrate orders that the parties are given a true and original equal copy of the originals exhibited in the inquiry. Kurt Sansone
17:17 Since the recording in question exists only on the copy of the hard drive passed on to the defence, and the other copies are not identical, the court orders that in the next sitting, the court expert Alvin Cardona is to testify to explain why these discrepancies exist. The magistrate reserves the right to give every appropriate order to ensure that all the digital files are exhibited in court, as it had already ordered in January. Kurt Sansone
17:12 Arnaud explains that there are two batches of recordings. The first batch were handed over by Melvin Theuma and exhibited by the court expert and those discovered in February. An investigation was triggered into the second batch of recordings, he says. Kurt Sansone
17:08 The defence say they were not given the tapes, which were played during the interrogation. Kurt Sansone
17:07 Mercieca says the defence were only given the court's copy. Arnaud explains that the police did not have the folder in the copy they received early after the devices were seized. Kurt Sansone
17:06 It is also brought to the attention of the court that recording 002 in the 00017791 folder is not to be found in the copy of the hard drive given to the transcriber. The prosecution also affirms that this recording is not in its possession either. Kurt Sansone
17:02 The magistrate asks Mercieca for the file's path on the hard drive. The file name is 00017791. Kurt Sansone
17:00 The court remarks that this situation is “unacceptable”. Kurt Sansone
16:59 Arnaud says Europol could re-extract the data, but Mercieca refuses. “I don't want to overstep but I'm being very cautious about what is happening. Europol has the interests of the police at heart,” the defence lawyer insists. Kurt Sansone
16:58 Mercieca: “There are files on the court expert's copy which the defence do not have.” Kurt Sansone
16:57 The prosecution is arguing that it is not acceptable and the defence is also angry about it. Kurt Sansone
16:56 Court officials seem to have found the recordings on the transcriber's hard drive that weren't in the defence's copies, or that of the court. Kurt Sansone
16:55 QUICK RECAP: During its cross-examination of pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma, the defence asked for certain recordings to be played. These particular recordings were not played during Melvin Theuma’s testimony over the past seven months. The prosecution objected since the cross-examination can only be done on what the witness has testified about. The defence insisted that the recordings, which were on the original hard drive, contradict what Theuma has been saying. The court ruled that one of the recordings be heard, however, it could not be found. The magistrate has ordered that the file be re-extracted from the original hard drive. Kurt Sansone
16:32 The court retires to chambers for a few minutes until the recording is set up. Kurt Sansone
16:32 The magistrate tells Cutajar: “So that we don't keep you here till 8pm, we're sending you away.” Kurt Sansone
16:31 The court orders that Lawrence Cutajar, the next witness, be summoned for another sitting because of time constraints. The court warns Cutajar not to communicate in any way with Melvin Theuma and any of the parties to the case. Cutajar's lawyer Ezekiel Psaila asks if it would be possible to have an indication of the time he would be required for, for the next sitting. The court tells Cutajar that he would be notified when necessary for him to testify. Kurt Sansone
16:14 Magistrate: “As it appears that the digital files containing the recordings extracted by the court expert from the original hard drive, exhibited in the magisterial inquiry, are no longer accessible because of what appears to be a technical difficulty, the court orders the same expert to extract all the data from the original hard drive.” Kurt Sansone
16:13 The court orders that the data be re-extracted. Kurt Sansone
16:12 The magistrate re-enters the courtroom. The sitting is suspended for 30 minutes. Mercieca tells the court that the recordings which he says are exculpatory, cannot be found on the court's hard drive. “This is very worrying, I don’t want to say it was deleted,” he says. Kurt Sansone
15:39 The file numbers don't match and the magistrate retires to her chambers while the problem is sorted out. Melvin Theuma is also escorted out of the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
15:33 Court officials are trying to find the recordings in the evidence. The court has resisted an attempt to have defence lawyer Charles Mercieca play it off his laptop. Kurt Sansone
15:27 The court dictates a note. It makes it clear that if there is a person in the courtroom recording the proceedings, it will find that person guilty of contempt and punish them at its discretion. This punishment would not be appealable. Every person in the court is to turn off every recording device including mobile phones. The fact that the proceedings are public doesn't mean they can be recorded says the court. Kurt Sansone
15:21 Court assistants are trying to find the file in question. Kurt Sansone
15:19 Caruana Curran says she doesn’t have locus standi in the proceedings. Kurt Sansone
15:18 Lawyer Kathleen Grima for Theuma objects to the suggestion that her client be held until finished. Kurt Sansone
15:16 They suggest that the witness be held until the next sitting. The court is not happy with this at all and rebukes them for springing this on her. One tape will be heard. Kurt Sansone
15:15 Defence lawyers Caruana Curran and Merceica ask to approach the bench. The tape deals with a particular person and discussions Theuma had with him. Kurt Sansone
15:14 The court authorises the playing of one of the tapes in the courtroom. But the magistrate chastises the defence for springing this on her. Kurt Sansone
15:13 Theuma is sent out of the courtroom again. Kurt Sansone
15:13 Theuma is recalled so that he confirms that he had only recorded conversations between himself, Yorgen Fenech and Johann Cremona. Kurt Sansone
15:11 Mercieca appeals to the court to seek the truth. The tapes are about the money allegedly paid for the proklama and give the lie to his statement that he had only recorded conversations between Yorgen Fenech and himself. Kurt Sansone
15:05 The defence continues to insist. Lawyer Marion Camilleri explains that the recordings totally contradict what the witness has said. Kurt Sansone
15:03 The court, after hearing the arguments, observes that as the recordings had not been heard originally, it was not procedurally admissible to have the witness play them in his cross-examination. But, however, if it is true that the witness made reference to the conversations contained therein, questions in cross-examination can be made about this. Kurt Sansone
14:59 The defence is adamant that they want the recordings to be heard today. Kurt Sansone
14:58 Inspector Keith Arnaud says that if anything, the whole tapes must be heard, not the excerpts out of context. Kurt Sansone
14:58 Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri says the prosecution had picked and chosen its selection of recordings to play to the court. Kurt Sansone
14:57 The prosecution does not object to the hearing of these recordings as it was part of evidence it had exhibited. It wants it to be exhibited in a procedurally regular manner, Galea Farrugia says. Kurt Sansone
14:54 The cross-examination is about what was heard in these tapes. The defence made its own transcripts which it offered the court to use to follow, if not admit them as evidence. Kurt Sansone
14:53 Caruana Curran: “We have been listening to the tapes for seven whole months and the tapes in question were never played. This was very worrying.” Kurt Sansone
14:52 They apologise to the court. Inspector Kurt Zahra had been commenting to Arnaud that this was a mise-en-scène. Kurt Sansone
14:51 The court finds Caruana Curran and Mercieca in contempt of court and fines them €50 each. Kurt Sansone
14:51 The defence is up in arms after Galea Farrugia suggests that an expert be appointed. “They are accusing us of a mise-en-scène, a crime,” Caruana Curran says. Much shouting ensues. Kurt Sansone
14:49 Assistant AG Philip Galea Farrugia argues that during cross-examination one cannot have these tapes heard out of context and reported by the media. He insists that the defence can summon Theuma as their own witness and exhibit the tapes. Galea Farrugia adds he has no objection to them being heard. Kurt Sansone
14:47 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca: “When the court hears the tapes it will immediately realise the relevance of what is being asked.” Kurt Sansone
14:46 Theuma is escorted outside while the point is argued out by the lawyers. Kurt Sansone
14:45 Caruana Curran tells the magistrate that he wants the court to hear the tapes, which had been exhibited but which Theuma hadn't testified about. Kurt Sansone
14:43 Theuma laughs and is reprimanded by the court. The implication by the defence lawyer is that Theuma bought his pardon. Kurt Sansone
14:43 Caruana Curran: “If I tell you that Edwin il-Ġojja paid €30,000 to the police commissioner...” Kurt Sansone
14:42 Theuma: “Of course not…” Kurt Sansone
14:42 Magistrate: “Did someone mention a presidential pardon in connection with the date of your arrest?” Kurt Sansone
14:41 Theuma says that one Monday he had a meeting with Yorgen Fenech and he said that the commissioner had to inform him about his arrest. “I suggested that he speak to Keith Schembri.” Kurt Sansone
14:40 Theuma: “I don't remember. I might have mentioned him in connection with the case.” Kurt Sansone
14:39 Caruana Curran: “Had you ever spoken to her about Keith Schembri? It was all a lie after all.” Kurt Sansone
14:39 Theuma: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
14:38 Caruana Curran: “Had you ever spoken to your wife about these things?” Kurt Sansone
14:38 Theuma: “The only time I spoke to him was when I went to sign the pardon. There were a lot of people in his office, Arnaud, Zahra, amongst them.” Kurt Sansone
14:36 Caruana Curran: “During your arrest, did you ever speak to the commissioner?” Kurt Sansone
14:36 Asked why the witness had been allowed into Castille from the front door, with Keith Schembri waiting for him, Theuma says Yorgen Fenech had told him to use the main entrance. Kurt Sansone
14:34 Asked if he planned to tell the police on Keith Schembri, Theuma says he couldn't because Schembri never told him to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
14:32 Theuma: “I don't know… the chat with Johann Cremona disappeared after some time on Signal, but those with Fenech no.” Kurt Sansone
14:31 Caruana Curran: “You mentioned Signal and WhatsApp. Do you know how to delete messages?” Kurt Sansone
14:31 Theuma: “I met him twice and he called once.” Kurt Sansone
14:30 Caruana Curran: “Did you also lie to Kenneth from Castille?” Kurt Sansone
14:29 Theuma says he mentioned Cutajar to bluff his way out. Asked to clarify, he says “żeffintu fin-nofs bħalma skużajt ruħi fuq Mizzi [the retired judge Antonio Mizzi].” Kurt Sansone
14:28 Caruana Curran: “Did you speak to Cutajar?” Kurt Sansone
14:26 Theuma: “One time, Edwin Brincat went to Cutajar at home to ask about a ticket. Cutajar had asked Brincat whether he had any recordings about the murder and so if he knew everyone knew, including Europol.” Kurt Sansone
14:25 He is asked whether he knew that Edgar il-Ġojja had a relationship with former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. Kurt Sansone
14:24 Asked what worried him the most, Theuma says: “Murder, nobody can ever take it off your conscience. You can live a hundred years and it will still be there.” Kurt Sansone
14:24 “That was when I was very young I...” he began, before being drowned out. “I was also investigated over money laundering.” Kurt Sansone
14:23 Caruana Curran asks him about his criminal past. “Were you a usurer?” Kurt Sansone
14:22 Theuma says he helped the police with two other crimes as well. Kurt Sansone
14:19 Asked what he understood by a pardon, Theuma replies: “If I help the police and lead them to the crime I will get a pardon.” Kurt Sansone
14:18 Theuma: “I was so confused, so depressed that a pardon… I don't know what it is or how it works.” Kurt Sansone
14:18 He is asked whether the implications of a pardon were explained to him. Kurt Sansone
14:17 Theuma: “No. It came from me. I’ll tell you something else, during my arrest there was no agreement between my lawyers and Arnaud. Arnaud had already told me that he was going to arraign me. Then the government issued a statement, a paper and I was asked whether I wanted to sign it and I signed it.” Kurt Sansone
14:16 Caruana Curran asks whether Theuma or his lawyers came up with the idea of a presidential pardon. “Did the police commissioner mention it to you?” Kurt Sansone
14:15 The day after his arrest, he spoke to his lawyers about the pardon. Kurt Sansone
14:13 The middleman says that Edwin Brincat, il-Ġojja, told him that he'd go in prison and never get out of there. Kurt Sansone
14:13 Theuma: “The pardon I mentioned several times as well as 20-30 years’ prison with Johann Cremona. I still have the remorse that I became embroiled in this murder and nobody can take it away.” Kurt Sansone
14:12 Theuma: “I always said that as soon as a policeman knocks on my door I would reveal everything. And I did.” Kurt Sansone
14:12 Theuma says he asked for Arnaud since he knew he was involved in the Caruana Galizia assassination case and the prosecution of the three men accused of the murder. Kurt Sansone
14:10 Theuma: “I requested the presence of Arnaud, the magistrate too, possibly also the commissioner of police, but he wasn't there. I wasn't trusting anybody. I know the recordings were taken by the magistrate.” Kurt Sansone
14:09 Theuma says he called a number of lawyers, including Giannella de Marco and Jason Azzopardi, before speaking to Matthew Brincat. Kurt Sansone
14:08 Theuma: “I was arrested by Nicholas Vella. I was at Wied il-Għajn, being searched and I said I wanted to speak to Arnaud. When he arrived, I told him I wanted to speak to him about the case. He told me I should speak to a lawyer.” Kurt Sansone
14:07 Caruana Curran: “Who had proposed the pardon to you when you were arrested. Did you think of it yourself?” Kurt Sansone
14:07 The sitting resumes and pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma is summoned to the witness stand. Defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran cross-examines. Kurt Sansone
14:06 Good afternoon. We're back in the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
13:33 The sitting is suspended for a few minutes. Kurt Sansone
13:33 The questioning is over. Kurt Sansone
13:33 Arnaud: “I think so.” Kurt Sansone
13:32 Mercieca: “The AG?” Kurt Sansone
13:32 Arnaud: “No.” Kurt Sansone
13:32 Mercieca: “The prime minister?” Kurt Sansone
13:31 Arnaud: “We found them between January and February.” Kurt Sansone
13:31 Arnaud is not sure if the commissioner had already left the force at that point. Kurt Sansone
13:30 Mercieca: “Did you inform the commissioner about them?” Kurt Sansone
13:30 Arnaud: “Whoever is part of the team knows about them.” Kurt Sansone
13:30 Mercieca: “Did you inform any others about the new tapes found in February 2020?” Kurt Sansone
13:29 Arnaud: “As far as I know these two reports were filed.” Kurt Sansone
13:29 Magistrate: “Are you aware of other people advising?” Kurt Sansone
13:28 Arnaud: “Kurt Zahra and I prepared the report together. There is a report by the Attorney General. I don't know about any other reports.” Kurt Sansone
13:27 Mercieca asks whether the pardon was granted on the police commissioner's advice. Kurt Sansone
13:27 There are still two witnesses waiting outside to testify. Kurt Sansone
13:24 The court is unhappy that it is being made to listen to witnesses testify at such length following the urgent application filed by the defence. Kurt Sansone
13:23 Arnaud says he has not heard a small number of the new tapes, but is informed of the gist. Kurt Sansone
13:22 Fenech laughs into his hands. Kurt Sansone
13:22 Arnaud: “No, no, there were other documents.” Kurt Sansone
13:22 Mercieca: “Was the pardon given because of the first group of tapes found in the box?” Kurt Sansone
13:21 Arnaud says that the pardon was given after Fenech's arrest. The defence had already listened to some of the recordings by then. Kurt Sansone
13:21 Fenech hands his lawyer a handwritten note. The pair exchange glances. Kurt Sansone
13:18 Arnaud says he recalls the pardon mentioning “di scientia propria” meaning what Theuma himself had heard. Kurt Sansone
13:17 Mercieca emphasises the fact that Theuma was not to hide anything from the authorities. Kurt Sansone
13:15 Arnaud had been part of the police team dealing with the pardon, giving a report to the commissioner with their views, but not party to the decision. Kurt Sansone
13:15 Arnaud: “We had asked Melvin Theuma about it and he said no.” Kurt Sansone
13:14 Mercieca suggests that Theuma paid for the pardon. “Do you know if any money changed hands for this pardon?” Kurt Sansone
13:14 Arnaud: “I wouldn't be the person to revoke it. It would be the president.” Kurt Sansone
13:13 Mercieca: “If Theuma is caught lying the pardon would be revoked, right?” Kurt Sansone
13:12 Arnaud: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
13:12 Mercieca: “Do we agree that Melvin's pardon is conditional on him telling the whole truth?” Kurt Sansone
13:12 Mercieca asks whether the pardon for Melvin Theuma was discussed in the same manner as that for Koħħu. “I wasn't present for any meetings at Castille about the pardon for Theuma,” Arnaud replies. Kurt Sansone
13:11 The court is getting annoyed. Too many hypothetical questions about things not related to the examination in chief. “This is not a case which you have filed already to attack a presidential pardon,” says the magistrate dryly. Kurt Sansone
13:10 Asked about the pardon, Arnaud says that the suspect was willing to talk. “What are we supposed to do? Not talk to him?” Kurt Sansone
13:09 Arnaud: “Keith Schembri would be present for the PM's meetings. We never felt the need to hide anything from him. The developments were about Melvin Theuma's recordings. With time, we noticed that the recordings were tied to Yorgen Fenech... We took into consideration what would happen if the recordings turned out to be useless or unrelated. The commissioner would also be present for these meetings. It was my first such experience, I'd never had such a request before.” Kurt Sansone
13:08 QUICK REMINDER: Il-Koħħu is Vince Muscat, one of three men charged with planting and detonating the bomb that assassinated Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat had indicated his willingness to spill the beans and also asked for a presidential pardon, which was not given to him. In previous court testimony, it emerged that Muscat’s willingness to speak had reached Melvin Theuma’s ears and this was making him edgy. Theuma has testified that Muscat and the Degiorgio brothers only knew him because he had acted as the middleman between them and Yorgen Fenech. Theuma has said in court that he feared, the murder would be pinned on him because the three men did not know Fenech had commissioned the crime. Kurt Sansone
13:04 Arnaud: “He was not mentioned initially… but I believe that he had been mentioned subsequently. Koħħu was mentioned for sure.” Kurt Sansone
13:04 Mercieca: “What did you tell them about Melvin?” Kurt Sansone
13:03 Arnaud: “None. But the issues were different. The first was the pardon for Koħħu. We weren't asked to give material information from the investigation. The subsequent meetings would be about foreign cooperation, also because no developments were happening after November 2018.” Kurt Sansone
13:02 Mercieca: “How many meetings did you have with the prime minister on other murder cases?” Kurt Sansone
13:02 Arnaud: “I don't know who requested the first meeting, I was told to attend by Valletta.” Kurt Sansone
13:01 Mercieca: “Is it normal to request meetings with the prime minister over police investigations?” Kurt Sansone
13:01 Arnaud: “In November once. Once a week before the arrests, then April and May 2018... I will get the dates. The meetings would be with the prime minister not Keith Schembri. Schembri would only be present.” Kurt Sansone
13:00 Mercieca asks how many times had Arnaud met Schembri about the case. Kurt Sansone
12:59 Arnaud: “It was around November 2017. Definitely before December. Mr Valletta [then deputy police commissioner] had asked me to accompany him.” Kurt Sansone
12:58 Mercieca now asks the inspector when was the first time he had spoken to Keith Schembri and the prime minister. Kurt Sansone
12:57 Mercieca is being warned again not to make superfluous comments about the inspector's replies. Kurt Sansone
12:57 Arnaud says he will check the dates with his notes, but he always would make arrangements with Theuma's lawyers. Kurt Sansone
12:56 Mercieca: “An investigative inspector should be certain of his information and we want to know whether he was spoken to before his deposition to the court.” Kurt Sansone
12:55 The defence appears to be pressing the inspector on precise dates for when he spoke to witnesses. The court asks why. Kurt Sansone
12:55 Arnaud: “Around €600,000.” Kurt Sansone
12:54 Mercieca: “How much cash did he have?” Kurt Sansone
12:54 Arnaud: “One for sure. There are also four mobiles for sure and other devices but I don't know exactly.” Kurt Sansone
12:53 Mercieca: “How many Laptops?” Kurt Sansone
12:53 Arnaud says the police wanted to find the recordings and the plan was to gather all of Theuma’s electronic devices. Kurt Sansone
12:52 Mercieca: “What are you doing with regards to the searches on Melvin Theuma?” Kurt Sansone
12:52 Yorgen Fenech shares a joke with one of his lawyers, Gianluca Caruana Curran, and laughs silently. Kurt Sansone
12:51 Arnaud says the commissioner would be present for many of the questioning sessions. Kurt Sansone
12:50 The court censures Mercieca for telling the witness “tigdiblix (don’t lie to me)”, as he had initially mentioned three officers only. Kurt Sansone
12:49 The inspector says that there were more police officers involved in the investigation since 2018 as some had retired from the force. Kurt Sansone
12:47 Arnaud: “For statements, me or Zahra. The last statement I'm not sure, depending on who is in the office at the time.” Kurt Sansone
12:47 Mercieca: “Who would be present for these meetings with Melvin?” Kurt Sansone
12:47 Arnaud explains that at least six statements were taken from Melvin Theuma during a three-week span in November. After that he was spoken to not audio visually and one more time on tape. Less than 10 statements were made. Kurt Sansone
12:43 Arnaud: “Yes. When I summon him, I always speak to his lawyer first. I always spoke to him on the record, but not always on tape.” Kurt Sansone
12:42 Mercieca: “You're certain?” Kurt Sansone
12:42 Arnaud says the first time he had spoken to Melvin Theuma was on the night of his arrest. Kurt Sansone
12:40 Arnaud: “It didn't take long... maybe half an hour. Not much more.” Kurt Sansone
12:38 Mercieca: “For how long did you speak to him?” Kurt Sansone
12:38 Arnaud: “The last time was this week. I think it was Tuesday.” Kurt Sansone
12:37 Mercieca: “When was Theuma last brought in?” Kurt Sansone
12:37 Questioning continues. Kurt Sansone
12:36 The sitting is briefly interrupted by a Skype call on the sound engineer's laptop. Kurt Sansone
12:36 The court says that it was letting the defence have a wide leeway, but that if it needed to ask questions about Aquilina it would have to summon him as a witness first. Kurt Sansone
12:35 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca is playing hardball with the inspector, trying to antagonise him at every turn. Mercieca is cross-examining Arnaud. Kurt Sansone
12:34 The prosecution objects, saying that this had not been mentioned in the investigation in chief. The court suspends the testimony for the time being. Kurt Sansone
12:34 Questions turn to former superintendent Raymond Aquilina. Kurt Sansone
12:33 Arnaud: “The interrogation was us making questions and receiving zero replies. We asked many questions and this might have been one of them. But Edgar opted for silence.” Kurt Sansone
12:32 Mercieca: “Did you ask him about his friendship with Melvin Theuma?” Kurt Sansone
12:32 Arnaud: “No.” Kurt Sansone
12:32 Mercieca: “Did you ask him about his friendship with Mario Tonna?” Kurt Sansone
12:31 Arnaud: “I wasn't aware of it at the time. I knew they were friends but not that they went back so far.” Kurt Sansone
12:31 Mercieca asks about Ġojja. “Did you ask him about his long friendship with Lawrence Cutajar?” Kurt Sansone
12:30 Arnaud: “The Hague... they come and go to Malta. They weren't in the country during Covid.” Kurt Sansone
12:30 Mercieca: “Where are Europol based from?” Kurt Sansone
12:29 Arnaud says Europol have the electronic devices. Kurt Sansone
12:25 The inspector's team is currently listening to the new tapes. Arnaud does not want to specify how many people are listening to the tapes. Kurt Sansone
12:24 Arnaud: “I think it was January or February 2020. Theuma had prompted us to investigate further. He had said he had an impression that there were more recordings and this made me look for them.” Kurt Sansone
12:24 Mercieca asks for the date when the new recordings were found. Kurt Sansone
12:22 Arnaud: “In November. Around five days before he testified. At the beginning, he didn't want to talk so I wanted to see if he was going to talk and prepare questions accordingly.” Kurt Sansone
12:22 Mercieca: “When was the last time you sent for Edwin il-Ġojja?” Kurt Sansone
12:21 The court overrules the question. Kurt Sansone
12:21 Mercieca: “When are you planning to finish your investigation?” Kurt Sansone
12:20 Arnaud says the police did not seize Vella’s mobile phone and confirms that the doctor is still being investigated. Kurt Sansone
12:19 Mercieca: “So, is it open? Yes or no? Did you seize his mobile?” Kurt Sansone
12:18 Arnaud: “It’s hard to say whether the investigation into him (Vella) is closed.” Kurt Sansone
12:18 Mercieca comments to Caruana Curran that “he doesn't know anything”. The comment draws the ire of the prosecution, but the court says it didn't hear any comments so no sanction is given. Kurt Sansone
12:18 Arnaud says Vella was arrested and released on police bail. Kurt Sansone
12:17 Arnaud: “This is not a formal position, if anything Kurt Zahra and I are lead investigators.” Kurt Sansone
12:17 Mercieca: “You are the lead investigator correct?” Kurt Sansone
12:16 Arnaud: “Three times in all. 19 December, 2019, was the last time.” Kurt Sansone
12:16 Mercieca: “When was the last time you sent for Dr Adrian Vella, inspector?” Kurt Sansone
12:14 Arnaud: “No.” Kurt Sansone
12:13 Mercieca: “Did you let Kenneth of Castille hear the tapes?” Kurt Sansone
12:12 Arnaud continues to testify. Kurt Sansone
12:12 Cremona is not being investigated, the court is told. Kurt Sansone
12:12 The court says the questions are pertinent and legitimate and it doesn't feel that any prejudice to the prosecution is being made. Kurt Sansone
12:10 Assistant AG Philip Galea Farrugia objects to his line of questioning, as these people are still liable to further investigation or prosecution. The objection is about the questioning of Camilleri, not Cremona he clarifies. Kurt Sansone
12:10 Arnaud says that if the police knew a person had pertinent information they would have spoken to them. On Kenneth Camilleri, the witness says he was spoken to twice in the space of two or three weeks in November last year, and once recently. Kurt Sansone
12:07 Mercieca asks whether Cremona lost his mobeil phone too. “No,” Arnaud replies. Kurt Sansone
12:05 Arnaud: “No.” Kurt Sansone
12:05 Mercieca: “Going back to Johann Cremona. Did you take his mobile?” Kurt Sansone
12:05 Arnaud says the task force - including the MSS and financial investigation department - is still sifting through the data. The data is pertinent but there are around 10 terabytes of data, Arnaud says. He notes that there are around 12 people in this task force. Kurt Sansone
12:02 Mercieca: “Does the defence or parte civile have a copy?” Kurt Sansone
12:02 Arnaud: “The recordings in the box were presented in court. But our job was to gather data from all the other devices from his relatives.” Kurt Sansone
12:02 Mercieca: “So, the recordings weren't shown to the defence?” Kurt Sansone
12:01 Arnaud says that everything was then gathered into a statement on tape. Kurt Sansone
12:00 Arnaud: “Before.” Kurt Sansone
12:00 Mercieca: “Did you let him hear them before or after he testified?” Kurt Sansone
11:59 Arnaud explains that during the session, the police heard those parts of the recordings where Johann was recorded. Kurt Sansone
11:58 Arnaud: “No, he was never under arrest… The session took between two and three hours.” Kurt Sansone
11:57 Mercieca: “When was the last time you sent for him? Was he under arrest?” Kurt Sansone
11:56 The inspector will give the precise dates of these meetings in a later sitting. Cremona was spoken to a minimum of six times, Arnaud corrects himself. Kurt Sansone
11:55 Arnaud: “I spoke to him some four or five times. I brought him in.” Kurt Sansone
11:55 Mercieca: “How many times did the police send for Johan Cremona?” Kurt Sansone
11:54 Arnaud: “Within days.” Kurt Sansone
11:54 Mercieca: “When did you speak to the engineer?” Kurt Sansone
11:54 Arnaud: “We spoke to a mobile phone expert. We've spoken to Vodafone and the engineer gave us a report.” Kurt Sansone
11:53 Mercieca: “Did the police attempt a reconstruction of Keith Schembri’s mobile phone using his SIM card?” Kurt Sansone
11:53 QUICK REMINDER: Last December, when testifying, Arnaud had said that Schembri told police he had lost his mobile phone. Kurt Sansone
11:52 Arnaud: “A laptop. During the search, we also asked him for his mobile phone.” Kurt Sansone
11:51 Mercieca: “What personal electronics of Schembri were seized?” Kurt Sansone
11:51 Witness answers in the affirmative but does not recall how many. However, electronics were taken from Schembri’s home and office at Castille. Kurt Sansone
11:50 Mercieca: “Did you ask Schembri how many mobile phones he had?” Kurt Sansone
11:50 Arnaud: “That day we had Yorgen Fenech under arrest, probably also Melvin Theuma and a large number of people too.” Kurt Sansone
11:49 Arnaud says that during the first arrest they almost used all the 48 hours during which Keith Schembri could be kept. He adds that Europol were not present for any interrogation. Kurt Sansone
11:48 Arnaud: “Three or four statements.” Kurt Sansone
11:47 Mercieca: “How many statements did you take from him when you spoke to him?” Kurt Sansone
11:47 Arnaud: “During two arrests, but we spoke to him a lot.” Kurt Sansone
11:47 Mercieca: “You spoke to him twice, therefore?” Kurt Sansone
11:47 Arnaud: “He was arrested. I didn't send for him. After the 26 November [2019], Schembri was spoken to whilst on police bail.” Kurt Sansone
11:46 Mercieca: “How many times did you send for Keith Schembri?” Kurt Sansone
11:46 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca comments over Arnaud's testimony and is brought to order by the court. “I assumed that this box contained the recordings. We always said that the case would depend on this. Theuma wanted to open the box in the presence of the commissioner, Arnaud and the magistrate.” Kurt Sansone
11:42 Questions turn to Theuma's box, which he wanted to open only in the presence of the police commissioner and Arnaud. Kurt Sansone
11:39 Mercieca argues with the magistrate on hearsay evidence, claiming that irrelevant testimony had been allowed in the prosecution's case. Kurt Sansone
11:38 Arnaud insists that he was not informed of the existence of the tapes by Lawrence Cutajar. “Definitely not.” Kurt Sansone
11:37 Galea Farrugia reminds that the cross-examination is to be made on the examination in chief and not on new information. Kurt Sansone
11:36 Arnaud: “My orders weren't to investigate Cutajar. This investigation is being carried out by colleagues.” Kurt Sansone
11:36 Mercieca: “Did you send for Lawrence Cutajar?” Kurt Sansone
11:36 Arnaud: “In the circumstances there was nothing else we could do.” Kurt Sansone
11:32 Mercieca asks whether the police commissioner testified during the inquiry. Arnaud isn't sure but says that he definitely gave his version to the magistrate. Kurt Sansone
11:32 Arnaud does not have the documents with him, but will get them in the next sitting. Kurt Sansone
11:31 Arnaud tells the court that the information concerning the meeting between the police commissioner and Edwin il-Ġojja was received in this period and it was discussed then. Arnaud is checking his notes for the exact date. Kurt Sansone
11:30 Asked what he did then, Arnaud says that there was nothing more to do as in that period the Commissioner had also spoken with the magistrate. “There were around 8 or 9 meetings for sure in that period, between May and July,” he adds. Kurt Sansone
11:29 Arnaud: “At one meeting the Commissioner was present and we asked him. He confirmed immediately.” Kurt Sansone
11:29 Arnaud explains that the team was himself, Kurt Zahra, Malta security service team - around 7 or 8 persons, a sergeant, and two constables. Because of the way things developed, the team didn't have much information. Had we hidden things from each other we wouldn't have arrived where we are today. Kurt Sansone
11:24 Arnaud says that when he found out he wasn't even sure it had taken place. He had discussed it with his team. There was no decision that he took by himself. Kurt Sansone
11:24 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca: “When did you know that the Commissioner of Police went to speak to Edwin il-Ġojja?” Kurt Sansone
11:23 We're back inside the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
11:02 This live blog will pause for a while until Arnaud’s testimony is heard behind closed doors. Kurt Sansone
11:01 The court orders everyone out of the courtroom for this part of the sitting. Kurt Sansone
11:00 The court agrees with the prosecution. It orders that at this stage, for the purposes of this request, it is to hear the testimony of Arnaud regarding the content of the pardon document behind closed doors today. The court also reserves the right to rule on the request to produce the document at a later stage. Kurt Sansone
10:55 Galea Farrugia repeats his arguments. The defence bicker with the prosecution. Kurt Sansone
10:54 Mercieca: “If there are concerns about revelations which could prejudice investigations, the hall can be emptied. In the UK a pardon is always available to the other party. If so sensitive that it could disclose state secrets, it can be read behind closed doors.” Kurt Sansone
10:52 Galea Farrugia: “First of all, at no time did the AG disobey the court, there is no order to exhibit it... secondly disclosure deals with material evidence. A pardon is not evidence. The court is only obliged to collect evidence. It is not a public document, it is a document of the President of State and who am I to exhibit it?” Kurt Sansone
10:49 Assistant AG Galea Farrugia opposes the request. Kurt Sansone
10:49 He says that reference was made to the document during Arnaud's testimony, so it should be produced in the acts of the case. Kurt Sansone
10:48 Defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran says the point is disclosure. “The witness has testified for seven months and we still don't know what his pardon states!” Kurt Sansone
10:46 The court asks what the point of the evidence is. Kurt Sansone
10:46 Mercieca refers to previous cases where such pardons were always exhibited. Kurt Sansone
10:46 Mercieca says that it is worrying that a witness decided not to bring the evidence with him. “I believe this is not only essential for the defence but is vital to check whether the witness is saying the truth,” he adds. Kurt Sansone
10:44 Arnaud says he did not bring it, on the advice of Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia. Kurt Sansone
10:44 The questioning of Arnaud starts. Mercieca asks the lead investigator to exhibit the pardon issued to Melvin Theuma. Kurt Sansone
10:43 Our court reporter says that to his knowledge, this is the first time this has happened. An unprecedented acknowledgment of the new issues faced by courts in the digital age. Kurt Sansone
10:40 Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and murder middleman Melvin Theuma enter the room. The court explains to them that they will have a court messenger observing them outside the courtroom to ensure they do not check their phones. Kurt Sansone
10:39 Mercieca asks the court whether it could stop the witnesses waiting outside the courtroom from accessing the live blogs being published by the media before they testify. The court sends for the witnesses. Kurt Sansone
10:38 Lawyer Charles Mercieca, who is defence counsel for Fenech, summons Inspector Keith Arnaud to the stand for cross-examination. Arnaud takes the oath. Kurt Sansone
10:33 Magistrate Rachel Montebello enters the courtroom and the session begins. Kurt Sansone
10:33 Yorgen Fenech enters the courtroom accompanied by three armed guards. More are outside. Kurt Sansone
10:23 We are being told that Inspector Keith Arnaud, the lead investigator in the Caruana Galizia assassination, former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and murder middleman Melvin Theuma will testify today. Kurt Sansone
10:20 All the courtroom players apart from Fenech are inside the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
10:19 We are in the courtroom waiting for the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech to start. Kurt Sansone
10:18 Good morning. Kurt Sansone

 

 

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