Caruana Galizia assassination: Middleman feared that Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri would pin murder on him

In recorded conversations between Yorgen Fenech and Melvin Theuma, the former spoke of soliciting Keith Schembri's help to secure bail for three men accused with Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder.

Security at the law courts has been heightened as Yorgen Fenech's compilation of evidence kicks off
Security at the law courts has been heightened as Yorgen Fenech's compilation of evidence kicks off

Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, had feared being blamed for the assassination in a plan hatched by Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri.

Testifying in the first session of the compilation of evidence against Fenech, the middleman spoke of a visit he had received from a “Kenneth from Castille”, a man he believed was sent by the prime minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Theuma told the court that Kenneth had asked him to inform the three men who were accused of the murder that they would be granted bail and receive €1 million each.

But this Kenneth also accused Theuma of being the mastermind behind the assassination. The Kenneth being mentioned here is a certain Kenneth Camilleri, who at one point worked as a security detail with the Prime Minister and was then employed with Transport Malta. Camilleri is also close to Schembri.

Theuma has been given a presidential pardon to tell all about the murder.

Appearing in front of Magistrate Rachel Montebello, Theuma said that Kenneth had showed him three mobile phone numbers, one of which was his old number.

“Kenneth accused me of being the masterming. I told him that Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind… I mentioned Yorgen Fenech by name because I felt the betrayal had begun and they were trying to pin the murder on me,” Theuma said.

The middleman said that it was Fenech who mentioned Keith Schembri and no one else. “Yorgen had told me that ‘Keith sent Kenneth because of me... the million-euro bail deal should never have been mentioned to you’,” Theuma told the court.

Schembri had been mentioned in a letter Theuma had penned as an insurance of sorts, should he be eliminated.

In court, Theuma said that he put Schembri’s name on the paper because he was worried that he would arrange for him to be jailed.

“I cannot say under oath that Keith ever paid me for the murder... for the rest of it he has nothing to do with anything,” Theuma said, implying that Schembri’s involvement may have come after the murder as a favour to his close friend Yorgen Fenech.

In one of the recorded conversation between Fenech and Theuma, the former is understood to have said that Keith Schembri went cold when he informed him of what happened.

When asked why he had gone to Yorgen Fenech with recordings of conversations and photos, Theuma said that he was scared that Fenech and Schembri were planning to kill him.

 “Like he murdered Daphne Caruana Galizia he could murder me,” Theuma said, adding the recordings were intended to give Fenech a signal that even if he was eliminated the information would still come out.

Theuma testified how the three men accused of the murder did not know that Fenech was the mastermind and feared they would take it out on him.

Fenech stands accused of being the mastermind behind Caruana Galizia’s murder. He had asked Theuma to get in touch with the Degiorgio brothers sometime in the first months of 2017 because he wanted to kill Caruana Galizia.

Theuma told the court that initially Yorgen said the journalist was going to publish information about his uncle, Ray Fenech and that is why he wanted to eliminate her. But Theuma later understood that Yorgen was worried because the information would concern him and not his uncle.

The assassination plan was briefly interrupted when the election was called but on the Sunday when the election result was out, Fenech asked Theuma to continue with the plans.

Two weeks later, Fenech handed Theuma a brown envelope with €150,000 inside, which was the price asked by the executors.

Theuma testified that Fenech was being kept abreast of progress in the murder investigation. The businessman had been tipped off about the massive police raid on the potato shed in Marsa in December 2017 and also knew that Vince Muscat, one of the accused, was talking to the police.

Earlier in the sitting, Inspector Keith Arnaud testified at how the police painstakingly arrived at the mastermind.

Arnaud said the police had continued monitoring the behaviour of the three accused in prison and managed to trace a link with Melvin Theuma, who provided them with money for their legal expenses and bail attempts.

Arnaud said Theuma was arrested last month after a raid to clamp down on clandestine lotteries and money laundering.

The police found a sealed plastic box in Theuma’s possession, which contained pen drives with voice recordings, a colour photo of him standing next to Keith Schembri and a letter.

It was after this arrest that Theuma decided to spill the beans on condition he was given a presidential pardon.

Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017 in a powerful car bomb explosion just after she left her house in Bidnija.

What is a compilation of evidence?

The compilation of evidence is a pre-trial evidence gathering exercise which often spans months, if not years. Every witness and piece of evidence presented before the court during this stage of proceedings can be disclosed to jurors in an eventual trial. But before that, the compiling magistrate must decree that there is sufficient prima facie evidence for a bill of indictment to be issued.

Fenech stands accused of promoting, organising or financing a group with the intention of carrying out a criminal offence, actively participating in this criminal organisation by giving information, material means or the recruitment of new members whilst aware of the purpose of this organisation, complicity in the wilful homicide of Daphne Caruana Galizia, conspiracy to commit a crime in Malta punishable by imprisonment and complicity in causing an explosion which caused Caruana Galizia’s death.

If convicted by a jury on the complicity in homicide charge, he faces a possible life sentence.

Who are the courtroom players?

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

The prosecution is being led by police inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra. They are being assisted by deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia.

Lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia and Andrew Borg Cardona have appeared for the Caruana Galizia family as an interested party in the case. The case is presided by Magistrate Rachel Montebello.

17:02 The sitting is adjourned. Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
17:01 On the 19, Inspector Arnaud will finish his evidence and be cross examined. Kurt Sansone
17:00 The case is to continue on 19 December and 23 December at 10am. Kurt Sansone
17:00 The magistrate says that a photo and a letter mentioned by witnesses today are to be exhibited in the next sitting. As for the recordings, which the court is informed are exhibited in the acts of a magisterial inquiry into a separate case, the magistrate has ordered the prosecution to make a request in the acts of that inquiry for those exhibits which are relevant to these proceedings be made available as soon as possible. Kurt Sansone
16:51 The court says that it is necessary. There would be many sittings needed for the court to hear all the evidence, the magistrate says. Kurt Sansone
16:47 The parties are arguing about the lack of cross-examination. Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri says the court is packed with journalists reporting on the proceedings and this coverage would be unbalanced and could prejudice potential jurors. Kurt Sansone
16:46 Theuma’s testimony is suspended and is led out of the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
16:44 Police Inspector Keith Arnaud is presenting the court with the recordings of the conversations between Theuma and Fenech. Kurt Sansone
16:43 Theuma ends his testimony. Kurt Sansone
16:42 Theuma says he was scared that Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri were planning to kill him and that is why he went to Fenech with the recordings. “Like he murdered Daphne Caruana Galizia he could murder me." Kurt Sansone
16:35 Theuma says: “I mentioned Keith Schembri on the paper because I was worried that he would arrange for me to be jailed. I cannot say under oath that Keith ever paid me for the murder... for the rest of it he has nothing to do with anything.” Kurt Sansone
16:33 Theuma describes how he recorded the conversations with Yorgen Fenech. He used to switch his phone to airplane mode and then record. He would then transfer the recordings to a computer. Kurt Sansone
16:31 Theuma says that he called his partner's daughter to deliver the money. Kurt Sansone
16:30 Theuma recounts how he had been on a cruise and Mario Degiorgio called him for €1,500 for Anca Pop's bail bond. Anca Pop is the partner of George Degiorgio who was charged separately on money laundering charges. Kurt Sansone
16:28 Theuma says he was under pressure from the murderers to be granted bail. Kurt Sansone
16:26 Theuma says that it was Yorgen who mentioned Keith Schembri and no one else. “Yorgen had told me that ‘Keith sent Kenneth because of me... the million euro bail deal should never have been mentioned to you’,” Theuma tells the court. Kurt Sansone
16:25 Theuma says he never met Kenneth again, failing to turn up for a meeting with him at the Żejtun Ramla (St Thomas Bay in Marsaskala) at night. Kurt Sansone
16:23 “I mentioned Yorgen Fenech by name because I felt the betrayal had begun and they were trying to pin the murder on me.” Kurt Sansone
16:22 The witness says that Kenneth had showed him three mobile phone numbers, one of which was his old number. The court hears how Kenneth accused the witness of being the mastermind. "I told him that Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind." Kurt Sansone
16:21 Theuma says that in one of the recorded conversations with Fenech, the businessman had said that Keith Schembri had become involved because they were friends. Kurt Sansone
16:19 Theuma tells the court that Yorgen denied sending Kenneth to his home and so he had concluded that it was Keith Schembri who sent him. Kurt Sansone
16:17 Theuma says that this Kenneth from Castille, told him to pass on the message that on the 22nd the accused would be given bail and a million euros each. Kurt Sansone
16:16 Johann Cremona and Yorgen Fenech have companies with each other, the court hears. Kurt Sansone
16:15 The witness resumes his testimony. Kurt Sansone
16:14 The lawyers and prosecution are arguing over a comment made under the witness’s breath. The magistrate slams her hand on the desk saying it is a deplorable contempt of court. She warns the lawyers and prosecutors that if another interruption or similar exchange takes place, she would fine them for contempt. Kurt Sansone
16:12 Theuma tells the court that a certain Johann Cremona had called him saying that he would go to his home. The next day Cremona and a Kenneth who works at Castille turned up outside his house. Theuma says that he told Kenneth that the Degiorgios wanted bail. Kurt Sansone
16:11 Theuma says that one day he had bought a pizza and turned up at Degiorgio's house and told him about Muscat. He then spent the night drinking. Once he switched on his phone he found a message from Fenech telling him to go and find tal-Maksar where the bomb was manufactured. Kurt Sansone
16:09 The court hears how Fenech told Theuma that Vincent Muscat was talking to the police. Kurt Sansone
16:05 Theuma tells the court that he had received messages from Yorgen Fenech detailing the progress of the police investigation into the murder. Kurt Sansone
16:04 Theuma says that he was scared that he would be killed too because only he knew about the murder. "I was scared of both the Degiorgios and Fenech." Kurt Sansone
16:03 Yorgen Fenech forked out the money to Theuma and the latter handed them over to Mario Degiorgio. Kurt Sansone
16:00 Theuma says that George Degiorgio wanted €60,000 for Anca Pop's bail, which would be given to her mother and then used to pay the bail. Kurt Sansone
15:58 Theuma says that he never mentioned Yorgen Fenech to the three men contracted for the killing. "If these three wanted to reveal who sent them they'd get to me… I fell into a depression and started drinking heavily. One time I was about to jump off the roof. It was then that I realised that Yorgen Fenech didn't care about me.” Kurt Sansone
15:55 Theuma says that one time, a certain il-Gandhi from Hamrun introduced him to Mario Degiorgio, whom he did not know. Theuma would start visiting Mario Degiorgio, sometimes bringing him food. Kurt Sansone
15:48 Theuma says the money was coming out of his own pocket. Kurt Sansone
15:47 After the arrests Theuma says he would give the killers €100 each weekly. “I would go through a certain il-Lolly from Hamrun who has white hair.” Kurt Sansone
15:46 Theuma says that after the raid on the potato shed he started taking sedatives and drinking whiskey because he was afraid of being uncovered. “I got confused.” (“Tfixkilt ħafna,ħafna") Kurt Sansone
15:45 Theuma says that he was told by Yorgen Fenech about the police raid on the potato shed in Marsa before it happened. “I informed the killers. I met Alfred Degiorgio and said there will be a raid." Kurt Sansone
15:43 Theuma says that he delivered the remaining €120,000 the week after the killing. An additional €5,000 he had paid out of his own pocket. Kurt Sansone
15:42 IN SHORT: This is the first sitting in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. Inspector Keith Arnaud took the witness stand earlier. He testified, among other things, on recorded phone conversation between Yorgen Fenech and the middleman Melvin Theuma. In these conversations, it transpires that Fenech had told Theuma of how he sought help from Keith Schembri to try and secure bail for the three men accused with the murder. Now, Melvin Theuma is testifying. Theuma was given a presidential pardon to tell all. Kurt Sansone
15:38 Theuma tells the court that he found out about the murder from the news. “I was very worried and asked Yorgen to meet. He met me at Level 21 at Portomaso. I told him that I was worried about the FBI and he told me not to worry and said ‘Aren’t these like the Maltese police? Don’t worry'” Kurt Sansone
15:35 “I took a cheque between four and five times. Then Tony Muscat had called me up and told me I needed to start showing up for work and so I quit.” Kurt Sansone
15:34 The magistrate asks Theuma if he had ever asked why he had been given this job. "I don't even know what the job was," he replied. Kurt Sansone
15:33 Camilleri objects as these items are not exhibited yet. The defence lawyer insists this was a breach of procedure. However, the court dismissed the objection. Kurt Sansone
15:33 Theuma says that Sandro Craus had taken a photo of him and Keith Schembri using Theuma's mobile phone. One of these photos ended up in Arnaud's possession. Kurt Sansone
15:31 “I had met Schembri once, months before at a farmhouse in Zebbug for a meal organised by Fenech. I was embarrassed to ask him about the job.” Kurt Sansone
15:31 Theuma says that he was informed that he would be given a job. Theuma protested that he had a taxi business and couldn't attend this job. “I was assured that I didn't have to turn up,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
15:30 Theuma recounts his experience in Castille: "As soon as I walked up the stairs I found Keith Schembri waiting for me. He made me an espresso." Kurt Sansone
15:29 Theuma tells the court that two days after Yorgen Fenech decided on the killing, he was that a Sandro Craus would call him up. “I was called by Craus immediately after hanging up and told to report to Castille.” Kurt Sansone
15:28 The defence suggests that the witness is being guided by the prosecution. Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri says that many things are not being done right. The court says it will ask the questions. Kurt Sansone
15:27 Theuma says that before the murder, Yorgen told him: “Let’s hope this doesn't end up like the bomb placed under Romeo Bone's seat and only took off his legs.” Kurt Sansone
15:25 Inspector Arnaud asks the witness about any further conversations. Kurt Sansone
15:19 Alfred Degiorgio had asked Theuma what coffee shops Caruana Galizia frequented and he was directed to a coffee shop in Naxxar and a restaurant in Rabat. Kurt Sansone
15:17 George Degiorgio had told Theuma that they were encountering problems in killing Caruana Galizia, but he would also tell him "mietu tant bulijiet ma tmutx din?" (so many bullies have died, why wouldn’t she?) Kurt Sansone
15:16 Theuma tells the court that Fenech started to pester him for updates. Fenech would tell him that the information [Caruana Galizia had] would get out. Theuma tells the court that he took this to mean that Yorgen was worried about himself not Ray Fenech. Kurt Sansone
15:12 The court hears how calls were always made on Signal or Whatsapp to avoid interception. Kurt Sansone
15:12 “It was a Monday. The first thing I did was meet Alfred Degiorgio at the potato shed telling him to come to Busy Bee. Alfred told me not to go to the potato shed.” Kurt Sansone
15:10 Two weeks later Fenech had called Theuma up to take him to the airport. Theuma tells the court that Fenech pulled out a large brown envelope containing €150,000. Fenech told him "here this is the money for Daphne Caruana Galizia to be killed." Kurt Sansone
15:09 “On the Sunday of Labour's election victory (4 June 2017) Yorgen called me up and said "mexxi" (go ahead) but I felt he was drunk,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
15:07 Theuma says the deal was cancelled for a while and he paid Degiorgio €2,000 out of his own pocket to keep him happy. Kurt Sansone
15:06 Theuma tells the court that the price was fixed at €150,000 with €30,000 as a deposit, which would be lost if the job was cancelled. Kurt Sansone
15:05 Theuma says that he decided to speak to Alfred Degiorgio because he had once rented him a flat. Kurt Sansone
15:04 “I went 30 minutes late and he was not happy. I told him that someone wanted him to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia. Alfred asked me: ‘But does he pay?’ and I told him yes.” Kurt Sansone
15:03 "I had asked Darren Debono, known as it-Topo, and he sent me a number. I called Alfred Degiorgio and met him the next day at 2pm,” Theuma continues. Kurt Sansone
15:03 “One day I finished work and was taking a coffee and Yorgen called me and invited me to Portomaso to speak to him. I went and was asked by Yorgen ‘how am I going to get in touch with George iċ-Ċiniż because I want to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia because she's picking on my uncle’,” Theuma tells the court. Kurt Sansone
15:01 Arnaud asks him how he became involved in the murder. Kurt Sansone
15:01 Theuma says that Yorgen Fenech and he would go out to eat together and go abroad to see horses. Kurt Sansone
15:00 Inspector Arnaud asks him about the horse betting. Theuma says he would run a lotto and if someone had a winning bet he'd pay out, and if not he'd keep the wager. Kurt Sansone
14:59 “I had a shop in Qormi and rented it out to Fenech for Bestplay and then I started using the Hilton to pick up clients.” Kurt Sansone
14:58 “I first knew Ray Fenech, Yorgen’s uncle. He started betting on horses and we became friends,” Theuma tells the court. Kurt Sansone
14:57 He says that he was allowed to operate his taxi business from the Hilton by Fenech. This happened around six or seven years ago. Kurt Sansone
14:57 Theuma tells the court that he has two taxis, one of which was rented out. Kurt Sansone
14:56 Theuma walks into the courtroom. The court tells him that he was given a presidential pardon on condition that he leave out no detail in his testimony. Theuma is warned that if he does not reveal all, his immunity from prosecution would be withdrawn and his evidence would be used against him. Kurt Sansone
14:55 Melvin Theuma, who acted as the middleman in the murder, is next to testify. Kurt Sansone
14:46 The court says that Theuma will not be allowed to testify on the recordings if he testifies today. Kurt Sansone
14:44 Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri is arguing that it is procedurally incorrect to make reference to documents which are not already exhibited in the acts of the case. Assistant AG Galea Farrugia says that a witness can testify and exhibit documents in later sittings. Kurt Sansone
14:43 The court, after hearing submissions on this, and in view of the fact that Arnaud's deposition would continue with an emphasis on the first part of the investigation, as well as the last part of the investigation and after taking into account the fact that at this stage the recordings in the police's possession are not the best evidence at law, and after noting that there was no impediment to the suspension of the witness' evidence, upholds the request for suspension and denies the request for the recordings to be exhibited at this stage of the proceedings. Kurt Sansone
14:39 IN SHORT: This is the first sitting in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. Inspector Keith Arnaud took the witness stand today. He testified, among other things, on recorded phone conversation between Yorgen Fenech and the middleman Melvin Theuma. In these conversations, it transpires that Fenech had told Theuma of how he sought help from Keith Schembri. Kurt Sansone
14:38 The parties are arguing over whether the court should hear other witnesses whilst Arnaud's testimony is suspended. Kurt Sansone
14:37 The assistant AG says that the copies which are in the police's possession are only informal ones and that in any case the original recordings and the expert reports would be exhibited. Kurt Sansone
14:37 Galea Farrugia objects because the witness (Inspector Arnaud) made reference to the recordings to explain the course of the investigations and it doesn't emerge from the testimony that any conclusions were drawn which could impinge on the rights of the accused. Kurt Sansone
14:33 Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia objects, saying that if the inspector made reference to them it was because he had to. Kurt Sansone
14:33 Marion Camilleri says “it is evident that several conclusions were drawn” from the recordings. Kurt Sansone
14:30 Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri complains that the inspector made much reference to the recordings from which he had reached conclusions and expressed opinions about. She is requesting that the recordings are heard in court. Kurt Sansone
14:30 Inspector Arnaud suspends his own testimony until the next sitting. Kurt Sansone
14:28 Arnaud refers to the court injunction being sought by Yorgen Fenech against his involvement in the case. “Although this was provisionally denied, the interrogation is being conducted by Inspector Zahra.” Kurt Sansone
14:26 Arnaud says that the allegations Fenech made are still being investigated. “That’s as far as I can say. The investigation had taken a turn after the informal discussions with Fenech. People were mentioned and called in for questioning,” Arnaud tells the court. Kurt Sansone
14:25 Yorgen Fenech's lawyers had been given full disclosure of the evidence against him, Arnaud tells the court. It was after this that the lawyers had come to ask about a pardon for their client. Kurt Sansone
14:24 After the pardon was issued to Theuma on 25 November, police spoke to Fenech again, informally. Once again, the inspector is stopped from testifying about these discussions. Kurt Sansone
14:23 On the basis of what Yorgen told the police about the letter and the recordings and the role of Keith Schembri, the police had concluded that Theuma's evidence had been corroborated. The police filed a report, together with the Attorney General recommending the presidential pardon be given. Kurt Sansone
14:21 "We spoke to Yorgen in a confidential manner, it was not a statement," Arnaud says. After lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran objects to the conversation being spoken about, the court orders that it not be mentioned. Kurt Sansone
14:20 Police spoke to Fenech twice before the presidential pardon for Theuma was issued. Kurt Sansone
14:19 Theuma gave copies of the letter to Yorgen Fenech to let him know that he would release them if something happened to him. It was a form of insurance. “Getting rid of him would not solve the problem because he had recordings, which would be passed on to the police,” Arnaud tells the court. Kurt Sansone
14:17 Theuma told police he was scared that they were working to eliminate him or have him imprisoned. Kurt Sansone
14:16 Theuma was also asked about this paper. He was asked why Schembri and Fenech were mentioned. Kurt Sansone
14:15 Fenech was arrested on 20 November, early morning. Searches were made and police found a handwritten note signed by Melvin Theuma saying that he is passing on the information about being the middleman. Kurt Sansone
14:14 Fenech had gone to Schembri to tell him about the fact that the police were on him - he had information on the investigations. Kurt Sansone
14:13 Schembri always told Fenech that he couldn’t do anything about getting the three men bail. Kurt Sansone
14:13 Fenech told Theuma that Keith Schembri “went cold” when he told him of the police investigation. Kurt Sansone
14:13 In the phone recordings of conversations between Yorgen Fenech and Melvin Theuma, Fenech says Keith Schembri got involved for Fenech's sake. Kurt Sansone
14:05 Arnaud says that Yorgen Fenech did not say who Kenneth was but described him as a "raġel tal-affari tiegħu". It was not clear who this Kenneth was but it later transpired that he was on the Prime Minister's security detail. Kurt Sansone
14:04 ‘Owen’ was taken to be Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, says Arnaud. Kurt Sansone
14:03 The court hears how in 2018, Schembri had attended a meeting with the Prime Minister and "Owen" at Castille and Yorgen had been informed of what had happened in it. Kurt Sansone
13:59 Arnaud tells the court there were several conversations on bail. Kurt Sansone
13:58 Arnaud tells the court that Theuma would give the Degiorgios money in prison through their brother, Mario Degiorgio. Kurt Sansone
13:58 "There's a difference between promising and saying you'll do what you can," Fenech told Theuma. Kurt Sansone
13:58 Keith Schembri, according to Yorgen Fenech, had done what he had done to help him, Arnaud says. Kurt Sansone
13:55 The inspector testifies that Yorgen Fenech had said that he couldn't do anything. It was suggested that Yorgen speak to Judge Mizzi, but he rejected it out of hand. It was also suggested that he speak to the prime minister directly but he had said no because the problem would only get bigger if more people get involved (iżeffen iktar nies fil-kredu). Kurt Sansone
13:51 “In every recording, Melvin mentioned bail. He felt very uncomfortable and wanted to keep his promise to the Degiorgios. ‘Why did you send me to promise bail?’, he was heard saying,” Arnaud says. Kurt Sansone
13:50 The three bombers only knew Theuma and not Yorgen Fenech, Arnaud tells the court. “This is why he was concerned.” Kurt Sansone
13:49 The court hears how Yorgen had spoken to Melvin and told him that he was unhappy about being recorded covertly. This conversation was also being recorded by Theuma. Kurt Sansone
13:48 Theuma was worried about the bail he had promised not materialising. Yorgen Fenech had said he would speak to Keith Schembri to see what was going on. Kurt Sansone
13:45 Answering a question by the court, Arnaud says that Kenneth was heard speaking to Keith Schembri about bail. Kurt Sansone
13:45 First, Theuma said Keith Schembri told him that they’d get bail and then he said Kenneth told him. Yorgen Fenech was not aware that Theuma was promised bail. Kurt Sansone
13:42 A certain Kenneth Camilleri had given Theuma the impression that they would be given bail "on the 22". Arnaud says that on 22 May there was a sitting. Kurt Sansone
13:41 Arnaud says that in every recording, Melvin Theuma was desperate to have the Degiorgios granted bail. Kurt Sansone
13:40 The dates of the recordings are unclear as yet, Arnaud says, but there is one recording almost certainly made at Portomaso on 9 May 2018. This is recording number five and from the background they could understand that Theuma had picked up Yorgen Fenech and his children from the airport. He had been away for a football match. Kurt Sansone
13:39 Arnaud says the police are still investigating the devices found in Theuma’s possession. There are three devices with recordings. Kurt Sansone
13:38 The magistrate asks who mentioned Keith Schembri. Kurt Sansone
13:37 “Over these years, we never had information linking Theuma to another person. On one occasion, he was angry at Yorgen Fenech and had offended ‘his friend Keith Schembri’,” Arnaud says. Kurt Sansone
13:36 "Never, ever, ever was any other name mentioned than that of Yorgen Fenech," Arnaud tells the court. Kurt Sansone
13:35 Inspector Kurt Zahra asks about Europol's involvement in the case. Arnaud replies that there were continuous updates with Europol. He explains that on 16 November whilst they were at the Police Commissioner's office, Theuma signed a paper saying that he would tell them everything he knew about the case. Kurt Sansone
13:33 Arnaud says the Prime Minister gave the go ahead "as long as it helps find the killer". Kurt Sansone
13:33 Whilst in police custody, Theuma said he wanted to speak about Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder. He was in a panicked state and crying a lot. After speaking to his lawyers Matthew Brincat and Kathleen Grima he said he was willing to speak only if a presidential pardon was granted. Kurt Sansone
13:32 Among the contents was a colour photograph of Melvin Theuma and Keith Schembri, the prime minister’s former chief of staff. Kurt Sansone
13:31 Arnaud says the box contained three mobile phones, three USB drives a voice recorder and papers. These were photos of a mobile phone's screen with text messages. The contact on top of the messages was saved as "Yorgen". Kurt Sansone
13:31 This happened in the presence of the inquiring magistrate and Theuma's lawyers. Kurt Sansone
13:30 Arnaud says that Theuma was in possession of a sealed plastic container. He told police not to touch it but that he wanted to open it in the presence of the Police Commissioner. Kurt Sansone
13:29 A magisterial inquiry was appointed and the Economic Crimes Unit and Europol had given a deadline for the operation of the arrest of Theuma. He was arrested on 14 November 2019, early in the morning together with family members and other people. Kurt Sansone
13:29 The police had noticed illegal gambling and money laundering by Theuma and made the decision to arrest him over this. Kurt Sansone
13:26 In April 2019, the police had suspected that these recordings may have been connected to the murder of Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
13:25 The inquiring magistrate was informed of all the developments. Kurt Sansone
13:24 Arnaud says that Melvin Theuma started being very worried and concerned about something, according to his friends. He had even fallen out with Yorgen Fenech, at one point and started recording his conversations with Fenech. The police later discovered that this was to do with the murder. Kurt Sansone
13:22 The deposit was collected by the daughter of Theuma's partner and passed on to a man who passed it on to another man who worked with Mario Degiorgio. Kurt Sansone
13:21 This information emerged when Vince Muscat, one of the accused, had started speaking to the police. Mario Degiorgio had informed his brother about this. Kurt Sansone
13:21 Arnaud says that a sum of €150,000 was paid to Alfred Degiorgio for the murder. €30,000 was a deposit. Kurt Sansone
13:20 Arnaud says that in July 2018, Anka Adelina Pop, George Degiorgio’s partner, was granted bail. She was facing separate proceedings on money laundering charges. Arnaud says that the €15,000 bail deposit was paid by Melvin Theuma. Theuma was abroad at the time but had arranged to have family members pass on the money to Mario Degiorgio. Kurt Sansone
13:17 Quick reminder: We are in court for the first sitting in the compilation of evidence against businessman Yorgen Fenech. So far, police Inspector Keith Arnaud has been testifying, giving a break down of the police investigation. Fenech stands accused of being the mastermind behind the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
13:12 In another call reference was made to a man "whose name begins with M" says Arnaud. Kurt Sansone
13:12 The name Melvin never cropped up during the phone calls but the police traced him after surveillance. Kurt Sansone
13:11 Melvin had started using a white Jaguar SUV but changed his car after some time. Kurt Sansone
13:10 In a phone call Melvin said he would pass on the food to Mario, which led the police to believe that Mario was the go-between for the men and Theuma. Kurt Sansone
13:10 Arnaud tells the court that the next day during that call, in the background, the police heard he was outside. Mario Degiorgio passed the phone on to someone else who later was identified as Melvin Theuma. Theuma was telling the accused to take courage and that they would soon meet. Kurt Sansone
13:09 The police also started to monitor Mario Degiorgio. On 21 March 2018 in a call from George, who was in prison, to Mario Degiorgio, the latter was heard telling his brother to ask Alfred to call him the next day at 9.45am because someone wanted to speak to him. Kurt Sansone
13:07 Arnaud says a taskforce was set up to investigate whether the three men were paid to do the job by a third party. This is when the police started noticing that George Degiorgio was communicating with his brother Mario Degiorgio several times, asking whether he had met with "him" (dak). Kurt Sansone
13:06 None of the three men suspected of detonating the bomb released a statement to the police, Arnaud says. The police kept on observing their movements even whilst they were in custody. Kurt Sansone
13:05 Arnaud says that Alfred Degiorgio had been using a rental car near the tat-Targa Battery. The car was traced to a garage in Hal Farrug that leased it to Alfred. Kurt Sansone
13:04 Forensic analysis of the cigarette butt found in Bidnija had Alfred Degiorgio's DNA on it. Kurt Sansone
13:03 Arnaud says that after the explosion, the three ghost phones were never used again. Two were possibly disposed of immediately. The third however gave an updated location near the potato shed and was found in the sea near the shed area inside the Grand Harbour. Kurt Sansone
13:02 Army divers helped recover Vincent Muscat's ghost phone from the seabed. Kurt Sansone
13:02 Alfred Degiorgio's ghost phone was found a few metres away from where he was arrested, Arnaud says. Kurt Sansone
13:01 The inspector recounts how the three men had been arrested at the potato shed in Marsa in December 2017. Arnaud says Europol experts accompanied the police on the raid and helped analyse data. Kurt Sansone
12:59 Judge Anthony Vella, who had been the inquiring magistrate at the time, had been shown a number of presentations by the police and the FBI, Arnaud says. Kurt Sansone
12:58 The police knew that the Degiorgio's had a boat, called the Maya, which had been captured on CCTV under the Siege Bell inside the Grand Harbour at the time of the explosion. Kurt Sansone
12:57 Arnaud confirms that the message sent to the device inside the car was at 2.58pm. Kurt Sansone
12:54 The third ghost phone was localised at Siggiewi where Vince Muscat lived. Kurt Sansone
12:52 Arnaud recounts how the movements of George Degiorgio's mobile phone mirrored those of one of the ghost phones, as did Alfred Degiorgio's. The phones were also being switched on at the same time. Kurt Sansone
12:51 So far, Arnaud is repeating the evidence he had given to the compilation of evidence against Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio. The three men are awaiting trial over their involvement in the Caruana Galizia murder. The men had brokered the bomb, placed it in the car and detonated it. Kurt Sansone
12:50 Arnaud tells the court that there was activity between two numbers ending 4366 and the other being the explosive device. It was confirmed that this was activity at the exact time of the explosion. Three other numbers used for burner phones were identified as having been activated around August 2017, the inspector tells the court. Kurt Sansone
12:48 Police had also inquired with the rental car company to see if any spare keys were used. Kurt Sansone
12:46 Arnaud says that a cigarette butt was found under a tree at a vantage point overlooking the scene of the crime. It was the only cigarette butt in the area and looked a bit odd. It was taken for DNA analysis, he says. Kurt Sansone
12:45 Arnaud testifies: "Within days we understood... that the bomb had been placed in the car under the driver's seat. From cell towers in the area, it was noted that an SMS had triggered the explosive device. The message Rel1=on triggered the relay which set off the bomb.” Kurt Sansone
12:43 Inspector Kurt Zahra dealt with the field work while Inspector Arnaud handled the experts and the American FBI, which had been brought in to help in the investigation. Arnaud tells the court that Europol were also assisting in data extraction, amongst other things. Kurt Sansone
12:41 Arnaud says that on the day of the murder – 16 October 2017 - he had been informed of an explosion in a vehicle in Bidnija and that police were on site. Kurt Sansone
12:40 Inspector Keith Arnaud takes the witness stand. Kurt Sansone
12:40 Daphne Caruana Galizia’s widower, Peter Caruana Galizia has asked to be admitted as a party to the case. The court upholds the request. Kurt Sansone
12:39 Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting. Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri are defence. Lawyers Therese Commodini Cachia and Andrew Borg Cardona are appearing for the Caruana Galizia family. Kurt Sansone
12:38 Fenech is seated on an office chair in the centre of the courtroom, surrounded by four guards. Kurt Sansone
12:38 The security operation is being coordinated by Prison Director Alexander Dalli, who is participating in personally in the operation. Kurt Sansone
12:37 The courtroom is packed with Caruana Galizia’s relatives and press. Yorgen Fenech was led in a few minutes ago. Kurt Sansone
12:32 Yorgen Fenech is inside the courthouse, escorted by armed guards from the Corradino Correctional Facility. Kurt Sansone
12:12 Yorgen Fenech stands charged with masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kurt Sansone
12:11 Follow our live blog here. Kurt Sansone
12:10 Security is tight. Police sniffer dogs and the AFM bomb disposal unit are here. Armed guards from the Corradino Correctional Facility are already in the court building. Kurt Sansone
12:09 The sitting is scheduled to start at 12.30pm in front of Magistrate Rachel Montebello. Kurt Sansone
12:09 We are here in court to follow the first sitting of the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. Kurt Sansone
12:09 Good afternoon. Kurt Sansone