Caruana Galizia murder: Keith Schembri's Castille office only searched 10 days after his arrest

Yorgen Fenech will spend Christmas and New Year in prison after court turns down bail request • Court hears how Keith Schembri's office in Castille was not sealed by police when he was arrested

Yorgen Fenech
Yorgen Fenech
13:49 The court is adjourned until the 30 January at 10am. This means that Fenech will be spending Christmas and the New Year in prison. Thank you for following this live blog. Kurt Sansone
13:48 Magistrate rules against bail. Kurt Sansone
13:46 She says that she is not satisfied that the course of justice will be carried out if bail is granted, especially because so many investigations were still going on. Kurt Sansone
13:46 Magistrate Montebello has issued a decree on the accused’s request for bail, made on 18 December. The magistrate is reading it out now. Kurt Sansone
13:44 The magistrate is once again presiding. Kurt Sansone
13:35 The courtroom is quiet as it waits with bated breath for the magistrate's decision on Yorgen Fenech's bail. Fenech is still flanked by heavy security officers. He stands to speak to his lawyer every few minutes. He looks exhausted but twitchy. Kurt Sansone
13:22 QUICK RECAP: We have been following another session in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. The court is now considering whether to grant Fenech bail. In today’s sitting, the court heard Inspector Keith Arnaud say that Keith Schembri did not give the police the password to his iCloud and emails. Arnaud said that police had asked for data to locate the last known position of Schembri’s mobile phone. Schembri told police that he lost his phone. In other testimony, the police found €7,000 on Fenech’s yacht when he was arrested. Kurt Sansone
13:19 We are expecting a decision shortly. Kurt Sansone
13:18 Magistrate Montebello has returned to her chambers to deliberate on the bail submissions. Kurt Sansone
13:18 Caruana Curran loses his patience and says: "So whoever is trying to frame him is out there, proof is being lost, and our client is here, locked up." Kurt Sansone
13:15 The assistant attorney general suggests that the release of Fenech on bail would be a cause for civil arrest. He draws comparisons to the three charged with executing the murder: Vincent Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio. He tells the court that if these three were to be released, civil unrest would surely follow. Kurt Sansone
13:14 Camilleri shakes her head at her client. Fenech raises his arms in fatigue. Kurt Sansone
13:11 Galea Farrugia says that Fenech had asked for police surveillance with him 24/7 during his arrest, so during that time, it's true that an escape was unlikely. Kurt Sansone
13:09 Fenech straightens up and claims that he's incorrect. "No, they are in Malta," he says. Kurt Sansone
13:09 In response, Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia says that as soon as Fenech was arrested, the accused's wife and child went abroad to the United Kingdom. "At this point, his family is abroad." Kurt Sansone
13:08 Defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran has taken over and tells the court that the protests that are taking place in Malta are not against Yorgen Fenech, but against the lack of reaction of the police, the lack of rule of law in the country. Therefore, granting him bail would not result in civil unrest. The civil unrest exists because of the government, Caruana Curran says. “Let’s not try to dump everything on Yorgen Fenech.” Kurt Sansone
13:05 Camilleri is telling the court that the evidence submitted by Melvin Theuma, "the most important witness here", has been preserved and that there was no evidence to be tampered with. Kurt Sansone
13:05 “Just because he has companies abroad doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have enough links to Malta. It’s absurd to say he doesn’t have links to this country, especially because his family and his home is here,” Camilleri insists. Kurt Sansone
13:05 Camilleri tells the court that it's clear that Fenech did not intend to leave Malta when he was intercepted on his yacht in November because "he had just €7,000 on his yacht." Kurt Sansone
13:04 Court is now back in session. Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri is submitting a bail request. She is insisting with the court that the presumption of innocence should prevail at all stages. "Is there anything difference in this case compared to other cases? This is a particular case, yes, because Fenech has been arraigned quite quickly compared to other cases, but the presumption of innocence should prevail," Camilleri says, adding that while Fenech was out on police bail numerous times, the police were in constant contact with him. Kurt Sansone
12:45 The court has been suspended for five minutes and bail for the accused will be discussed when we return. Kurt Sansone
12:45 Parte civile counter-examination is over. No more witnesses will testify. Kurt Sansone
12:45 Asked about Keith Schembri’s phone, Arnaud tells the court: "We asked him about his phone and he said he lost it but then we asked him for passwords for the cloud, his email but to this day he did not provide any passwords because of sensitive work emails." Kurt Sansone
12:43 Arnaud tells the court that there are many "loose ends" in the investigation and that there were many ends that slipped from their grasp. He confirms that an investigation into Adrian Vella's calls to Keith Schembri was taking place. Kurt Sansone
12:42 Arnaud confirms that Vella had said that he had called Keith Schembri during this time. Schembri had told the doctor: "Keep calm, and open the door to the police." Kurt Sansone
12:37 "Yes, he did, between 25 and 26 November. But he told us that he cleaned all the contents of his phone," Arnaud says, adding that the doctor had told police that he was scared. Kurt Sansone
12:36 Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi is counter-examining Arnaud. He asks whether Adrian Vella, Yorgen Fenech’s and Keith Schembri’s personal doctor. had a mobile phone when he was arrested. Kurt Sansone
12:35 Arnaud says the tapes make reference to 'ix-xiħ.' These tapes are recordings of Melvin Theuma's conversation with Yorgen Fenech. Arnaud confirms that Fenech mentions 'ix-xih' not Theuma, and he did this to refer to a Castille meeting. Kurt Sansone
12:30 Kenneth Camilleri was part of the security detail of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Kurt Sansone
12:30 Defence lawyer Caruana Curran asks the chief investigator whether Kenneth Camilleri was mentioned in the recordings. Arnaud confirms that ‘Kenneth of Castille' was mentioned in the tapes but never by surname. It was Theuma, who later who confirmed the surname. Kurt Sansone
12:26 A proper search of Keith Schembri's Castille office took place on 5 December, Arnaud confirms. Kurt Sansone
12:25 No police made sure that the office of the former chief of staff at Castille was sealed, Arnaud says. He claims that he talked to the new chief of staff, Mark Farrugia, and that he had locked up the office when Schembri was arrested. Arnaud says that Farrugia told him that he was the only one in charge of that office and nobody had entered it. Kurt Sansone
12:24 Arnaud says that when Schembri was under arrest, no one was keeping guard of his office at Castille to make sure that evidence wasn’t being tampered with. Kurt Sansone
12:21 Arnaud says that he saw Schembri the first time in Castille. Magistrate Rachel Montebello warns the defence not to pursue this line of questioning because there were other inquiries which were charged to do this work. Kurt Sansone
12:20 "Did this happen because you go along well with Keith Schembri?" Caruana Curran asks. Kurt Sansone
12:20 Arnaud says that this was the first experience when he walked into Castille due to an investigation. "2017 was the first time I walked into Castille, in fact," he says. Kurt Sansone
12:20 "Is it normal for an inspector to communicate with Castille on situations like these?" Caruana Curran says. Kurt Sansone
12:18 Arnaud says that Kurt Zahra, former deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta, assistant police commissioner Kevin Farrugia and Michael Mallia were all present at some point during the investigation. Kurt Sansone
12:16 Arnaud adds that he is not sure whether Schembri told him where and when the mobile phone was lost. Kurt Sansone
12:16 “The investigation is still going on,” Arnaud replies and continues, “so I need to be careful what to say. Like in the case of another phone we tried to trace, it depends on various factors whether we will be able to find it, such as whether it’s on or off, for example.” Kurt Sansone
12:14 “What did you do as a police inspector to find this mobile phone?” Caruana Curran asks. Kurt Sansone
12:12 “Investigation into Keith Schembri is still taking place. His mobile phone is yet to be found. The reason why he hasn’t been asked again to reproduce his phone is that there are other more pertinent things. We have also asked for data to see where this phone was used last,” Arnaud says. Kurt Sansone
12:12 Keith Arnaud is now being questioned by Caruana Curran. He is asking him on whether Keith Schembri is still being investigated. Kurt Sansone
12:11 Vella says that Schembri was mentioned after the box was opened and Schembri was recognised in one of the photos found in the box. Kurt Sansone
12:11 Inspector Keith Arnaud interjects: "How was he mentioned though?" Kurt Sansone
12:11 Lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran for Yorgen Fenech is now counter-examining Nicholas Vella. The lawyer asks whether Keith Schembri was mentioned during this time. Vella says that, yes, Schembri's name was mentioned. Kurt Sansone
12:08 Nicholas Vella tells the court that he was present with Melvin Theuma up until the box was opened. Kurt Sansone
12:04 Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi is now questioning Nicholas Vella. Azzopardi is appearing for the Caruana Galizia family. Kurt Sansone
12:03 "I told him that wherever that box goes, I would go. And that has been the case up until the box was opened," Vella says. The box contained numerous recordings, evidence, a photo of Theuma and Keith Schembri in Castille. Vella says that Theuma refused to let the box go, insisting he would only speak to the police commissioner. Kurt Sansone
12:02 Vella says that when Theuma was arrested, he had been holding a box which he would not "at all costs" part from. Kurt Sansone
11:55 Vella says that he anticipated that his investigations would conclude at the end of November. “I came up with 16 November as the date when the arrest of Melvin Theuma could be carried out.” Kurt Sansone
11:54 Inspector Nicholas Vella from the police’s anti-money laundering unit testifies: “A number of misdemeanours regarding money laundering, tax evasion and illegal gambling were clear from the investigation. On 28 October, I met with a number of people from Europol and CID who showed interest in my investigation. They offered their assistance and I kept giving them updates into my investigation into Melvin Theuma.” Kurt Sansone
11:53 QUICK REMINDER: Melvin Theuma is the middleman in the Caruana Galizia murder. He was granted a presidential pardon to tell all. Theuma was arrested last month in a money laundering operation and started speaking to the police on his involvement in the murder. Kurt Sansone
11:51 "On 9 September, I received a confidential report with regard to Melvin Theuma. After receiving this report, I started a financial investigation into him," he tells the court. Kurt Sansone
11:51 Inspector Nicholas Vella from the money laundering unit is next to testify. Kurt Sansone
11:48 The testimony ends and there are no counter-examinations. Kurt Sansone
11:47 Another police officer takes the stand, recounting what he had witnessed during investigations. He identifies Yorgen Fenech as the accused in the courtroom. He repeats what other officers had said on the searches on the yacht and Portomaso offices. Kurt Sansone
11:47 The testimony ends. Kurt Sansone
11:46 At one point, Micallef was replaced by Arnaud’s driver, he says to act as security with Fenech. Kurt Sansone
11:46 Keith Arnaud questions the witness on Fenech’s short visit to Mater Dei. Micallef says that while he wasn’t with Fenech all the time during Fenech’s emergency visit, there were no individuals who had been with him apart from emergency doctors. Kurt Sansone
11:41 Micallef also lists a number of items that were requisitioned by the police, including some bank cards, laptops, equipment, mobile phones, a small camera and sim cards. Kurt Sansone
11:40 “On 20 November, I assisted on searches carried out in Portomaso," Micallef says, identifying Fenech in court. He adds that he could confirm that Fenech complained of chest pains at one point and his doctor, Adrian Vella was called. Kurt Sansone
11:39 Police sergeant Antoine Micallef has taken the stand. Kurt Sansone
11:38 The testimony has concluded. Kurt Sansone
11:37 Fenech's defence lawyer asks the officer how Fenech's behaviour was during the accused's arrest. "We never had problems. He was cooperative. There were certain occasions when he was on police bail, and we were assigned as security with him. Whatever we told him, he was very amenable and collaborative," the officer says. Kurt Sansone
11:37 He tells the court that searches were carried out at Schembri's house in Mellieha. He explains how this was the extent of his involvement with the investigation. Now Caruana Curran is counter-examining the officer. Kurt Sansone
11:36 Police officer says that he was also the one to escort Keith Schembri at some point to the police headquarters. He was accompanied by inspectors Kurt Zahra and Keith Arnaud. Kurt Sansone
11:35 Inspector Kevin Pulis informed the testifying officer that he should escort Fenech sometime during his interrogation because he was complaining of pain in his chest. Kurt Sansone
11:34 The officer says that after the searches were concluded, Fenech was escorted to police headquarters. Kurt Sansone
11:29 An Enemalta factsheet is also presented to the court. Karl Azzopardi
11:29 The officer also identifies two printed emails from now Airmalta chairman Charles Mangion that were found in Fenech's office. Mangion was appointed Enemalta chairman in 2013. Karl Azzopardi
11:27 The officer identifies six documents found in Fenech's possession that are letters from Fenech addressed to middleman Melvin Theuma's address. Karl Azzopardi
11:25 Chief inspector Keith Arnaud asks the police officer to identify any documents that he had confiscated from these locations and he identifies them to the satisfaction of the court. Karl Azzopardi
11:18 The officer describes how many items were confiscated from these locations and placed in evidence bags: sim cards, BOV cards, an American Express card, a Revolut card, a laptop, phones, a passport. These were handed to inspector Kevin Pulis. Karl Azzopardi
11:16 The police officer says that four searches took place after Fenech's arrest: one on the yacht, another in Fenech's Portomaso residence, another in an office on level 3 of the Portomaso business tower in Tumas Group's corporate offices and another in an office on level 21 of the Portomaso business tower. Karl Azzopardi
11:15 He was the one who arrested Fenech on suspicion of murder and read him his rights. Karl Azzopardi
11:15 Another police officer from the Drugs squad has taken to the stand and he has identified Yorgen Fenech in the courtroom as the man he saw on the 'Gio' when the yacht was searched. Karl Azzopardi
11:13 The cross-examination has ended and Pulis leaves the stand. Karl Azzopardi
11:12 This is the first time that Fenech has looked up. He seems agitated, his legs are restless. He now speaks in secret to his lawyer. Karl Azzopardi
11:12 "No, we never had a problem. There was full collaboration from him. No problem at all," Pulis tells the court Karl Azzopardi
11:12 "No, we never had a problem. There was full collaboration from him. No problem at all," Pulis tells the court Karl Azzopardi
11:11 The lawyer asks whether Fenech collaborated in any way. Karl Azzopardi
11:11 Caruana Curran asks about the documents submitted on Wings development and asks Pulis whether he's aware that these companies are now closed. Pulis claims that he doesn't know. Karl Azzopardi
11:10 Caruana Curran asks whether €7,000 were found found on Fenech's yacht. Pulis confirms that this was the case and also tells the lawyer that the mobile phones that were found on the yacht, including Fenech's personal phone, were handed to members of Europol for examination. Karl Azzopardi
11:08 Now Fenech's defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Currana is questioning Kevin Pulis. Karl Azzopardi
11:08 Arnaud asks Pulis to clarify what happened between Fenech and Vella during Fenech's arrest. Pulis claims that 24 November is the last time that Vella met Fenech and when they did during his arrest, they were allowed to speak in confidence. Karl Azzopardi
11:04 Pulis submits a lengthy, Nexia BT report, dated 2015. This was found, Pulis says, in Fenech's portomaso office. The contents of the report are not mentioned. Karl Azzopardi
11:01 The prosecution, Keith Arnaud, is now questioning inspector Kevin Pulis, today's main witness. Karl Azzopardi
11:01 Pulis presents documents of Wings Development Ltd and Wings Investments Ltd found in Fenech's offices in Portomaso. It was previously reported that in March 2017, Fenech's 17 Black had changed its name to Wings Development. Karl Azzopardi
10:57 The inspector continues to submit a number of invoices and documents found in Portomaso. Karl Azzopardi
10:57 The inspector has submitted an invoice of €1 million found at Fenech's portomaso offices issued by New Energy Supply Ltd to Gem Holdings Ltd, a group of Maltese interests, including the Apap Bologna Family, Gasan Enterprises and Fenech himself, in the LNG Delimara power station. Karl Azzopardi
10:51 Just four security officers are present in the courtroom. Karl Azzopardi
10:51 Yorgen Fenech is yet to look up. He is slouching, looking down at his black crocodile skin slip-on shoes. He seems a very different person from that man who had confidently walked through Valletta before he was charged, fielding questions from journalists. Karl Azzopardi
10:45 Pulis hands photographs to the court, as well as a number of receipts signed by Europol experts referring to items that were confiscated by Maltese police and handed to them, and other important articles. David Hudson
10:39 It is through the daughter that the police eventually made contact with Vella. He was told to come to police headquarters for questioning. David Hudson
10:38 Police then went to Vella's Qawra clinic but searches for the doctor there resulted in the negative. David Hudson
10:38 He says that though Vella's car was parked in Bugibba outside his residence, Vella was not responsive and could not be reached. Keith Arnaud insisted that it was important that Adrian Vella be questioned. David Hudson
10:36 On 26 November, the inspector says that at around 11pm, he was informed by Keith Arnaud that Adrian Vella is to be questioned as well. David Hudson
10:35 On 22 November, the inspector says, the anti-money laundering unit did searches of its own in Portomaso and confiscated a number of documents. The inspector claims that the main concern at the time, however, was electronic equipment. David Hudson
10:32 No explosives were found. David Hudson
10:32 A Europol investigator asked police that the vessel be once again searched thoroughly in Fenech's presence for fear that there could be explosives on the 'Gio.' David Hudson
10:31 On 20 November, Fenech was escorted to police headquarters so the interrogation and investigations could continue. David Hudson
10:30 Yorgen Fenech has not looked up yet. His fingers are interlocked and he is staring down as the inspector's testimony continues. David Hudson
10:28 Police were then told that Fenech was experiencing some form of anxiety during police searches. His doctor, Adrian Vella, was called and spent two hours with Fenech while the searches took place. David Hudson
10:26 Wood also told police that he was unaware of Fenech's possible plan to escape the island. David Hudson
10:25 Wood explained that his plan was to go to Pozzallo and then come back to Malta via catamaran. The inspector asked Wood about Fenech's plan and Wood replied saying that Fenech planned to go up to Pozzallo but not to return to Malta. David Hudson
10:24 "It's normal for me to take the vessel to Sicily for maintenance before it's ready to sail," Wood told police. David Hudson
10:24 Wood was then told to join the officers to the police headquarters and was asked for a statement. Wood wanted legal representation to be present and he submitted a six-page statement. In it, he claimed that he was employed by Tumas Group as the captain of Fenech's vessels. David Hudson
10:21 The investigation then moved to the Portomoso penthouse. The captain of the 'Gio', Logan Wood, was told to remain on the yacht. David Hudson
10:20 Pulis claims that all the photographs pertinent to the investigation that were taken aboard the yacht and all articles of interest were handed to members of Europol. David Hudson
10:19 After a preliminary search aboard the yacht, police inspectors asked Fenech whether there were any dangerous instruments on the vessel that could be a danger to them. Police found around €7,000 aboard the vessel. David Hudson
10:18 He was arrested on suspicion of his involvement in the murder of Caruana Galizia. David Hudson
10:18 He was arrested on suspicion of his involvement in the murder of Caruana Galizia. David Hudson
10:18 At around 6:30am, the inspector says, the police inspectors went aboard the yacht and arrested Fenech. David Hudson
10:17 He is telling the court that on 19 November at around 6:15am, he had been informed by inspector Keith Arnaud that Yorgen Fenech had been aboard his yacht 'Gio'. David Hudson
10:15 An inspector, Kevin Pulis, who is part of the Drug Squad and the main investigation into Yorgen Fenech, is testifying first. David Hudson
10:15 Yorgen Fenech is sitting before the magistrate, flanked by two heavy security officers. David Hudson
10:14 The family of Caruana Galizia, her parents, sons Andrew and Paul, and her sisters are present at the back of the courtroom. David Hudson
10:13 Magistrate Rachel Montebello has entered the courtroom. The session has started. David Hudson
09:57 Parte civile lawyers Andrew Borg Cardona and Therese Comodini Cachia are waiting outside the courtroom. Karl Azzopardi
09:57 We will be with you as long as battery power allows us to. Karl Azzopardi
09:57 Three men - George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat - stand accused in separate proceedings with executing the murder. Karl Azzopardi
09:57 Fenech is accused of being the mastermind behind the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Karl Azzopardi
09:57 Good morning. We are back in court today for the continuation of the compilation of evidence against businessman Yorgen Fenech. Karl Azzopardi

Keith Schembri's office in Castille was only searched by the police 10 days after the former chief of staff had been arrested and interrogated for 50 hours.

The revelation comes from court testimony given by Keith Arnaud, the lead investigator in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Arnaud was being cross-examined today by the defence team of Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of commissioning the murder. The compilation of evidence against Fenech continued today.

The court heard Arnaud testify that when Keith Schembri,  the former chief of staff of the Prime Minister, was arrested, his office in Castille was not sealed by the police.

Arnaud told the court that Schembri's office at the Office of the Prime Minister was searched on 5 December, 10 days after he was arrested and released. Schembri had already resigned his public post by then and the police relied on Schembri's successor, Mark Farrugia's claim, that the office was closed and nobody was allowed to enter the moment Schembri was arrested.

 

Under cross-examination by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who is appearing for the Caruana Galizia family, Arnaud said that the police had asked Schembri for his cloud and email passwords but these were not given because of sensitive work information.

Schembri told police that he lost his phone and Arnaud confirmed in court today that the police have asked for technical data to be able to locate the last known whereabouts of the phone.

In today's sitting, Magistrate Rachel Montebello denied Yorgen Fenech bail. The Tumas Group shareholder will be spending Christmas and the New Year in jail. The case against him will continue on 30 January.

The magistrate ruled that the court was not satisfied justice would be served if bail is granted, given that multiple investigations were ongoing.

During today's session the court heard how police found €7,000 in cash on Fenech's boat when he was arrested last month. 

In the previous sitting

In the last sitting, the court heard lead inspector Keith Arnaud testify how Fenech had discussed an escape plan to Tunisia with his brother Franco, and uncle Ray Fenech.

The evidence came from messages found on Fenech’s mobile phone and the statements given to the police by the accused’s personal doctor, Adrian Vella.

The court also heard in the last sitting that when the police arrested Keith Schembri, he informed them that he had lost his phone. Arnaud said the police were still trying to locate Schembri’s mobile phone as he confirmed that the former chief of staff to Joseph Muscat is being investigated over homicide, tampering with evidence and other crimes.

Middleman Melvin Theuma has been granted a presidential pardon to tell all about the murder.

The case is being heard in front of Magistrate Rachel Montebello. The defence lawyers are Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

The prosecution is being led by inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra, assisted by the state advocate.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi, Andrew Borg Cardona and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.

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