Police officer testifies on Yorgen Fenech's mobile phone contacts in Konrad Mizzi libel case against Daphne Caruana Galizia

A senior police officer has testified that Yorgen Fenech's phone book contained entries for former minister Konrad Mizzi and his communications aide but no reference to 'lover'

Contacts for former minister Konrad Mizzi and his communications aide Lindsey Gambin were found on Yorgen Fenech’s mobile phonebook but there was no reference to "lover", a court heard.

Superintendent Keith Arnaud took the witness stand in a libel case Mizzi had filed against slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2014 after she posted a blog entry titled "This is the Super One journalist Konrad Mizzi has been seeing, and the reason his wife left to China".

The article was accompanied by a photo of Lindsey Gambin, Mizzi's communications coordinator at the time.

Gambin later also filed libel proceedings, which are being heard in tandem with Mizzi’s case.

Peter Caruana Galizia is appearing as defendant. Mizzi did not attend today's sitting.

Mizzi’s lawyers quit

As the sitting began this afternoon, the court noted that by means of a note filed on 25 October, Mizzi’s lawyers Aaron Mifsud Bonnici, Abigail Critien and Christopher Vella formally declared that they were renouncing the patronage of their client.

Arnaud reads from Yorgen Fenech’s contact list

Superintendent Arnaud took the stand, summoned by the defendant. He said he had been instructed by the court to look for the names of Lindsey Gambin, Konrad Mizzi and Sai Mizzi on Yorgen Fenech’s mobile phone, which had been seized at the time of his arrest.

Arnaud said he didn’t have their numbers so he extracted the data and ran queries on it. He said he found contacts named “Lindsey Gambin” and “Konrad Mizzi” on the indicted man’s phonebook, but nothing under “Sai.”

Arnaud said he had limited his search to the phonebook as dictated in the court’s decree, but confirmed that the police were in possession in all Fenech’s phone data.

Joe Zammit Maempel, lawyer for Peter Caruana Galizia, asked if there was more data on the phonebook to exhibit. “The names are these, but I stopped at the names… There was a task force that had searched all the data,” he explained, naming another officer who could exhibit the entire dataset.

Zammit Maempel asked the superintendent whether Gambin was listed as Mizzi’s “lover” or other such relationship identifiers.

Lawyer Edward Gatt, appearing for Mizzi, insisted that this was outside the remit of the original question, but Zammit Maempel was permitted to pose his question directly, by the court.

After some back and forth with the lawyers, the court itself asked whether the word “lover” was found. “No I didn’t find the word “lover.” I only found names. But I only looked at the phonebook, I didn’t look at chats,” Arnaud replied.

Asked by Zammit Maempel as to who from the police force could ascertain that this information is to be found in the phone, the superintendent named an inspector now stationed at FCID. The court will summon the inspector to testify about this during the next sitting.

Before wrapping up, the magistrate asked the parties whether they could settle this case amicably. "This is a case opened in 2014… where are we going with these cases? Can’t there be some form of rapprochement?"

Lawyer Peter Caruana Galizia said that the Caruana Galizia family had arrived at out-of-court settlements with other people, “even Silvio Debono”, but that this did not seem likely in Mizzi’s case.

Gatt told the court that there had been an affidavit which had “inflamed things”, but promised to pass on the message.

The case was put off till later this month.