Caruana Galizia murder: Melvin Theuma knew of money laundering investigation against him

Court sitting cut short because Melvin Theuma, who is testifying against Yorgen Fenech, is taken ill

Yorgen Fenech
Yorgen Fenech

Melvin Theuma was aware that he would be arrested over a money laundering investigation but was convinced he would not be held.

This is the gist of recordings played in court today as the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech continued. He is being accused of masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The sitting started late and had to be terminated prematurely because Theuma felt unwell.

The court ordered a ban on the names of a list of people who were to be mentioned in the recordings.

In a part of the recording, Theuma was heard saying in an agitated voice: “When they mentioned Keith and Konrad they didn't pick them up so why pick me up?”

Theuma was given a presidential pardon to tell all on the Caruana Galizia murder. He served as the middleman between Fenech and the three men who executed the crime.

The evidence against Fenech primarily rests on the testimony of Theuma, who had secretly recorded various conversations between himself, Fenech and others.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding.

The defence lawyers are Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca.

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 MORE: Caruana Galizia murder: Melvin Theuma says he was told Keith Schembri had a finger on the secret service

13:10 The sitting comes to an end. That’s it for today. Thank you for following. A summary will follow shortly. Kurt Sansone
13:09 The next sitting is on 5 April between 10am and 2pm. Kurt Sansone
13:08 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca asks for call profiles between Edwin Brincat il-Ġojja and former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, which were requested in a previous sitting, to be exhibited. Kurt Sansone
13:04 The court is trying to see how to reschedule, given the limited time it has and the fact that the witness has medical problems. Yorgen Fenech returns from the bathroom. Kurt Sansone
13:02 Later today we will have more information on his condition, his lawyer tells the court. Kurt Sansone
13:02 His lawyer Kathleen Calleja Grima explains that it would be best if the sitting continues another time. Theuma has medical tests and procedures soon. The court dismisses the witness for today. Kurt Sansone
13:00 Theuma tells the court he is in pain and not in a position to continue participating in the sitting. Kurt Sansone
13:00 Yorgen Fenech asks to go to the bathroom. The recordings continue to be played. Kurt Sansone
12:57 Amongst a litany of foul language, Theuma is heard saying in an agitated voice: “When they mentioned Keith and Konrad they didn't pick them up so why pick me up?” Kurt Sansone
12:50 “Daqshekk, jien ma ninġabarx (that’s it, I will not be picked up [by the police]),” Theuma is heard saying in the recording. Kurt Sansone
12:46 The men in the recording are trying to figure out how to make messages disappear after 30 minutes. Kurt Sansone
12:46 The clip is a conversation between Theuma and (Omissis 1) in which they are discussing how to activate disappearing messages. The recording cuts out and back in several times. It is a problem with the court's audio hardware. Kurt Sansone
12:38 The court tells Supt Arnaud that if there are going to be clips dealing with things that are still being investigated it did not want to harm any investigations. Another recording is played. Kurt Sansone
12:35 Arnaud says that in the next recording, a person already mentioned is referred to again, but in a context which could identify some of the names protected by the ban. He asks the court to order that this name is therefore also subjected to a ban. Melvin Theuma is led out of the courtroom by his minders as the court hears submissions on this point. Kurt Sansone
12:32 Arnaud refers the witness to a section of the recording which follows after a section which is barely audible. This part of the questioning concerns an individual who cannot be named by court order. Kurt Sansone
12:32 On the recording Yorgen Fenech is heard saying: “What you shouldn't do is keep on fighting.” Kurt Sansone
12:30 Theuma: “Because Kenneth had spoken to Johann about some lotto. And Johann would get information from Keith [Schembri]. I had said: ‘Couldn't you get information directly from Keith?’ He said Kenneth speaks to Johann… People on the outside (Europol and others) kept on talking about the murder.” Kurt Sansone
12:27 Theuma asks to sit down. Arnaud hands him his chair and a bodyguard hands the witness a visor. The magistrate asks Theuma if he is ok. He nods weakly. Kurt Sansone
12:25 The recording is over. Arnaud questions the witness. Kurt Sansone
12:18 More inaudible voices against a backdrop of road noise is heard. Kurt Sansone
12:16 Theuma asks to be allowed out of the courtroom to swallow his medication, as the technician seeks out a part of the recording which Theuma wants to hear again. He is allowed to leave and returns a moment or two later. The recording is played. Kurt Sansone
12:15 Theuma says they were discussing the clandestine lotto business and Caruana Galizia's murder. He explains that when he said ‘din ngħadduha jew l-oħra’, he was referring to either being let off the hook for the illegal betting or the murder. Kurt Sansone
12:08 Theuma tells the court that Fenech is referring to someone else. Kurt Sansone
12:08 Reference is made to the recording in which Theuma says: “I hope this will pass.” Fenech replies: “Don't worry, I don't think they'll (arrest you)… Certain things you come tell me and others you don't.” Kurt Sansone
12:05 Theuma says he doesn't recall when the recording was made. “What we're discussing is that they are going to arrest me, and he was going to speak to ‘the other one’,” Theuma says. He adds that Fenech business associate Johann Cremona had told him to change the number “with chip and telecell”. “But Yorgen told me; ‘No. Keep everything’,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
12:01 Theuma: “Yorgen Fenech. I would take him to Portomaso.” Kurt Sansone
12:01 Arnaud: “Who?” Kurt Sansone
12:01 Superintendent Keith Arnaud asks him about the recording. “I had gone for him [Yorgen Fenech] at the airport. He said he was coming from Monaco,” Theuma replies. Kurt Sansone
12:00 The recording stops. Kurt Sansone
12:00 Theuma can be heard saying that he would be investigated and that whoever informed him, had told him that they were questioned by the FIAU. Theuma is telling Fenech about the planned raids on his properties. Kurt Sansone
11:59 The context of this conversation is probably the information that had been leaked to Theuma that police were going to raid his property as part of a money laundering investigation linked to his clandestine lotto business. Theuma was fearful of this probe but had been given assurances by an associate of Fenech that the police officer who would conduct the raid was friendly and will let him off the hook. Kurt Sansone
11:56 In the recording, the pair are discussing the police investigation into money laundering involving Melvin Theuma but the audio is not clear. The parties have access to the transcripts, but the press doesn't, which makes it hard to follow. Kurt Sansone
11:52 Theuma is talking to Fenech inside his cab as cars zoom past and indicators click and the engine rumbles. Theuma had a taxi and operated it from a stand at Portomaso. Kurt Sansone
11:49 The voices of Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech are heard discussing Monaco as a travel destination. Kurt Sansone
11:42 Melvin Theuma takes the stand. Yorgen Fenech takes up a seat behind his lawyers and the recording starts being played. Kurt Sansone
11:41 The court orders a list of names not to be published in any way, be it in testimony or any other way. The court emphasises the seriousness of the ban and underscores this is punishable as contempt of court and any other crimes relating to the revealing of names that are secret. The magistrate insists that not even an oblique reference that could identify them should be made. Kurt Sansone
11:33 This is granted. Kurt Sansone
11:33 The names and circumstances in which they are mentioned could leave the persons at risk, replies Arnaud. Mercieca asks to approach the Bench and discuss the matter with the prosecution and magistrate. Kurt Sansone
11:33 The sitting begins. Superintendent Keith Arnaud asks for a complete ban on the names that will be heard in the recording. This is for safety reasons, he says. Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca asks for more information. Kurt Sansone
11:32 The previous sitting is over and the magistrate orders that Yorgen Fenech be brought up from the cells. She retires to chambers until this is done. The accused enters the courtroom, accompanied by several prison officers. He sits next to his lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran and discusses something. Kurt Sansone
10:56 It appears there is another case scheduled before Yorgen Fenech’s that has to be cleared first but the accused has not yet been brought in. This explains the delay in the start of proceedings. Kurt Sansone
10:27 Our senior court reporter Matthew Agius is in a packed Hall 9 waiting for the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech to start. Kurt Sansone
10:26 Good morning. Kurt Sansone