Keith Schembri, Yorgen Fenech and others charged with misappropriation over Melvin Theuma phantom job

Five men, including the former OPM chief of staff and alleged murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech, were charged with theft and misappropriation over the government job given to Melvin Theuma

Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri
Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri

Keith Schembri, Yorgen Fenech and three others have been charged with theft and misappropriation in connection with a government job given to the self-confessed middleman in the 2017 murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Melvin Theuma.

Schembri, the former OPM Chief of Staff, former OPM customer care chief Sandro Craus, former private secretary in the  Family & Social Solidarity ministry Anthony Ellul and former Housing Maintenance and Embellishment Co Ltd CEO Anthony Muscat as well as Yorgen Fenech, were charged by summons - not under arrest- before magistrate Monica Vella this morning.

Melvin Theuma, who has admitted in court to setting up the journalist’s murder, claims to have done so at Fenech’s behest and had been granted a Presidential Pardon in return for his testimony. During criminal proceedings against Fenech, Theuma had told the court that five months before the murder took place, he had been given a job by Schembri  at the government-owned Housing Maintenance and Embellishment Co Ltd, for which he drew a salary, despite never actually showing up to work.

When the case was called this morning before Magistrate Monica Vella, the accused’s defence lawyers requested particular documents, which formed part of the inquiry, asking the court not to hear witnesses today, because some of the evidence “could be inadmissible”.

Lawyer Stefano Filletti argued that the evidence against the men had not been fully disclosed to them during their questioning, despite the police already having it. “The inquiry concluded in 2018. So when the police sent for the accused they already had this in hand. The accused have a right to disclosure and it is obvious that the police failed to do so,” he said. 

Magistrate Vella disagreed with Filletti’s assertion, telling the lawyer that she had seen the entire inquiry and knew “exactly” what it contained. “It carried on, long after 2018. It was closed a few months ago,” the court said, adding that it would not be hearing further evidence today.

“Given the tight time frame, can you indicate the amount of prosecution witnesses?” defence lawyer Michael Scirha asked Inspector Nicholas Vella, who is prosecuting.

Inspector Vella explained that he could not give an exact number as the prosecution also planned to make requests to allow reference to be made to witness statements, instead of having them testify.

Defence lawyer Edward Gatt warned the court that the defence has “great reservations about the manner in which the inquiry was carried out,”  but said that this matter would be tackled in future sittings.

Lawyer Michael Sciriha, appearing for one of the defendants, informed the court that the defence was reserving the right to summon witnesses of its own, in order to rebut any evidence there might be regarding prima facie.

The case was adjourned for further prosecution evidence to October 7.  

Yorgen Fenech is being represented by lawyers Charles Mercieca, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo are defence counsel to Schembri.

Lawyer Stefano Filletti is appearing for Anthony Muscat

Lawyers Vince Micallef and Ryan Ellul are representing Anthony Ellul.

Lawyer Michael Sciriha is representing Craus.