Melvin Theuma found out about Yorgen Fenech's police challenge against him from the media

Court begins hearing a criminal complaint filed by Melvin Theuma against police commissioner for failing to investigate Yorgen Fenech for allegedly filing a false police report against him

Melvin Theuma
Melvin Theuma

A court has begun hearing a criminal complaint filed by Melvin Theuma, who initiated challenge proceedings against the Commissioner of Police for failing to investigate Yorgen Fenech for allegedly filing a false police report against him.

In a hotly contested sitting before magistrate Nadine Lia this morning, Superintendent Frank Tabone resisted a request that he exhibit all of the evidence requested by Theuma’s lawyers, until they indicated the objective of the request.

“We are objecting to the exhibition of evidence which we do not know the relevance of,” he said.

The court told the police officer that “the objective of the evidence is to prove that Yorgen Fenech is lying.” “When the criminal complaint was filed, what evidence was in the hands of the police? That is what I need to issue a decree,” said the magistrate.

The case was still at the stage of discovery of the evidence, said the Court. “The challenger is saying he wants to bring certain documents to the attention of the court. You must say whether the exhibition of these documents is legally permitted in the acts of the challenge proceedings. The court is asking, first and foremost: do you object to the exhibition of the documents attached to the criminal complaint?”

One of Theuma’s lawyers, Kathleen Calleja Grima told the court that she understood that the prosecution had further submissions to make, which could take place at the final stage, but that the current issue is admissibility. “We said [the evidence] was important for us to prove our case. There is no rule of procedure which says that this evidence is inadmissible at this stage. If it is relevant or not or on the merits, this is a separate issue. We want to place them at the disposal of the court so that it may reach a decision.”

But the Superintendent insisted in his objection, saying the court could not permit “a fishing expedition.”

The court repeated that the case was still at an early stage. “The challenger came with a long list of requests and the court felt it had to ask you”

The police officer said he understood the court but disagreed with the requesting of all the evidence. 

Calleja Grima explained that on the instructions of the court, she had emailed the police to inform them what evidence she wanted the police to exhibit, 13 days before the sitting. The email was not in the acts of the case, however.

Superintendent Tabone repeated his objection. “I cannot have challenge proceedings become compilation proceedings.” The court explained, several times, that it was premature to make this argument, as it was only dealing with the question of admissibility at this point, not the merits.

Supt.Tabone informed the court that he would be maintaining his current position, repeating the argument that the police could not understand the relevance of the evidence. The magistrate pointed out that the issue was not the relevance, but the admissibility of the evidence.

Tabone said that the evidence requested has already been exhibited in other proceedings. This prompted Theuma’s other lawyer Matthew Brincat to remark “so they do exist. They have always been in the police’s hands.”

Calleja Grima said that Yorgen Fenech had also made a request for a Presidential pardon and that this was currently the subject of pending civil proceedings. “I presented all the evidence, making reference to it in the criminal complaint.”

Magistrate Lia observed that the request dealt mostly with voice recordings, Signal messages and statements made to the police. She asked the lawyer to justify the request for the statements. Calleja Grima explained that she had made several references to the compilation of evidence as a whole.

The issue began when Yorgen Fenech filed a criminal complaint asking for proceedings against Melvin Theuma for giving false testimony, she said. “We weren’t notified of the complaint, and only saw it because it was reported in the media.”

“When we saw that Fenech had accused Melvin Theuma of perjury in the case, we made a criminal complaint, although at the time we did not have access to Fenech’s criminal complaint. We also asked the Commissioner of Police to proceed against Yorgen Fench for filing a false report and intimidating a witness.”

The lawyer pointed out that Theuma had not yet been cross-examined over his testimony, arguing that intimidation could therefore have an impact on his evidence.

She explained that Theuma’s criminal complaint had highlighted the main points which the lawyer was aware of, her not being privy to the evidence in the Fenech compilation. “But we also highlighted some evidence which we were aware of, and which had not been exhibited in the proceedings against Theuma.

“I exhibited some messages from Signal, but I do not have all of them,” said the lawyer, pointing out that Theuma’s lawyers had been given a copy at the beginning of the compilation of evidence.

“So, you are telling the Commissioner of Police to act on evidence which is not even in your possession?” asked the court.

“I know this civil case is underway and the information is public,” replied the lawyer. The court informed Calleja Grima that “some of the information is not public.”

“I know from the media that Fenech is contesting the statement and has filed a constitutional case,” Calleja Grima went on. “We found out about the report against Theuma from the media, but I can't be expected not to take action simply because he wasn’t notified and will not be notified.

“I feel there is no legal impediment stopping this evidence from being exhibited in these proceedings. Not the merits, but we want the evidence…”

The Magistrate replied that the Commissioner of Police was clear in his response to that request.

Calleja Grima added that the testimony of Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspector Kurt Zahra were also part of the compilation of evidence against Fenech. “I could summon them to testify again, but for practicality’s sake, I asked for the transcripts instead.”

The court pointed out that the defendant in the present proceedings was not Fenech, but the Commissioner of Police for failing to take action against Yorgen Fenech over a false report.

Calleja Grima informed the court that a copy of the separate criminal complaint filed by Fenech against Theuma was yet to be inserted in the acts of the case, but the magistrate specified that these proceedings were against the Commissioner of Police not Fenech.

Magistrate Lia adjourned the case, saying the court would issue its decree on the issue before the next sitting.