Keith Schembri was Yorgen Fenech’s informant on progress of Caruana Galizia murder investigation, court hears

Less than a month after Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered and before the arrests, Yorgen Fenech knew the police had traced the ‘killer SMS’ that detonated the bomb • The informant knew long before the police that Fenech was the mastermind

Yorgen Fenech (left) once let slip that he was being informed on the Caruana Galizia murder investigation progress by Keith Schembri
Yorgen Fenech (left) once let slip that he was being informed on the Caruana Galizia murder investigation progress by Keith Schembri

Businessman Yorgen Fenech knew that police had traced the SMS that detonated the bomb which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia less than a month after the murder.

The shocking detail emerged in court this afternoon in the testimony of Melvin Theuma, the middleman who was granted a presidential pardon to tell all about the murder.

Caruana Galizia was assassinated on 16 October 2017 and three men accused of planting and detonating the bomb that blew her car were arrested on 4 December. The Maltese police, with the help of the American FBI, had before the arrests been tracing the location of a number of mobile phones as they pieced together the movements of the three suspects on the day of the murder.

Theuma told the court this afternoon that Fenech had informed him that he knew the police had traced the SMS that detonated the bomb.

This was less than a month after the murder and before the police raid in Marsa where brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat, were arrested.

Theuma was testifying in the compilation of evidence against the three men. He has pointed his finger at Tumas Group magnate Yorgen Fenech as the mastermind of the murder. He was being cross-examined by Jason Azzopardi, the lawyer appearing for the Caruana Galizia family.

READ ALSO: Tearful middleman tells court: I once gave lift to Caruana Galizia many years back

Theuma said Fenech was constantly informed of developments in the murder investigation, including in the months when investigators had no clue yet that the businessman was involved in the crime.

The implication is that whoever was informing Fenech, knew of the businessman’s involvement long before the police did.

Theuma said that during a conversation he had with Fenech, the businessman had mentioned that Keith Schembri was his informant.

“Fenech once named Keith Schembri as the person informing him. You can refer to the recordings but I don’t quite remember the context,” Theuma told the court.

This was at a time when Theuma was getting jittery because one of the three men accused of the murder – Vince Muscat – started speaking to the police. The three hitmen only knew Theuma and were unaware that the murder was ordered by Fenech.

It was Fenech, who informed Theuma that Vince Muscat was revealing everything.

Such, was the extent of the sensitive insider information that Fenech was being fed that in April 2018, Fenech informed Theuma that there was a Cabinet meeting taking place which was discussing a presidential pardon for Vince Muscat il-Koħħu.

Fenech had also informed Theuma that their phones were being tapped by the Security Service and instructed him to use WhatsApp, where phone calls are encrypted.

Theuma said he had started recording his conversations with Fenech when he started fearing for his life.

Schembri and Fenech were too close: 'I thought it was my turn now'

Theuma said that he was afraid Keith Schembri and Fenech were too close (biċċa waħda) and that is when he started recording conversations between himself and Fenech. “I thought it was my turn now,” Theuma said.

He also spoke to the court about a letter he penned in which he also mentioned Keith Schembri.

“I mentioned Keith il-Kasco [the name of Schembri’s company] in the letter to scare Yorgen Fenech into believing what I was ready to do and implicate him,” Theuma told the court.

“Keith never mentioned Daphne, never paid me for anything. Only Yorgen Fenech gave me instructions. For me, only he is the mastermind,” Theuma said.

At one point Theuma was visited by a certain Kenneth Camilleri from the Office of the Prime Minister and Johann Cremona, a business associate of Fenech.

Camilleri had come with a promise for bail and €1 million each for the three men in custody for the murder.

Theuma told the court he believed that it was Schembri who sent Camilleri. It transpires that this Camilleri formed part of the Prime Minister’s security detail at one point but Theuma did not know this.

Theuma reiterated in court that he feared that Fenech and Schembri would pin the blame of the murder on him.

"Yorgen told me that he would not carry the responsibility of guaranteeing bail for the Degiorgios or even the €1 million each because he didn't order it. Then who did?" Theuma said, adding that he assumed Camilleri was sent by Schembri.

This shocking testimony by a witness who is obliged to tell all the truth under the terms of a presidential pardon, implies that the prime minister’s former chief of staff was passing on sensitive information received during security briefings to Fenech.

It also implies that Schembri may have been aware that Fenech was the mastermind in the murder long before the police had suspected the businessman was involved.

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