Acting police chief tells inquiry, only Silvio Valletta's call logs were collected when his name cropped up in Caruana Galizia murder case

The public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia continues with acting police chief Carmelo Magri testifying

Acting Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri
Acting Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri

Acting police chief Carmelo Magri said that Silvio Valletta's call logs but nothing else were collected when the former deputy police commissioner's name cropped up during the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder compilation.

Magri was testifying in front of the public inquiry into the journalist's murder.

He was asked about police leaks and the fact that murder suspect Yorgen Fenech used to receive information about the ongoing criminal investigation from Valletta.

Magri said that no laptop or mobile phones were collected from Valletta in the course of the investigation, insisting that the former police officer had denied all allegations made by middleman Melvin Theuma.

Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia, who is representing the Caruana Galizia family, asked Magri what evidence was gathered from Valletta, to which he indicated that only the call logs were elevated.

Comodini Cachia then asked Magri how come the police were not interested in what Valletta said on WhatsApp. She also asked Magri, whether he knew about Valletta’s relationship with Fenech.

Magri said he learnt about the relationship from the newspapers. The reference was to video evidence that emerged last January showing Valletta fooling around in Fenech's luxury car and the fact that the two had also gone abroad together to watch football.

Magri, who was appointed acting police chief last January after Lawrence Cutajar resigned, insisted that all investigations continued under his leadership. He said that he crippled and slowed down other departments to ensure that all key investigations were well-staffed.

The acting police chief said the FBI were no longer involved in the murder investigation.

Asked by Joseph Said Pullicino, one of the inquiry judges, whether anybody mentioned in the Panama Papers was investigated, Magri said that there was a problem with the unit tasked with such investigations because it was understaffed.

"I beefed up the unit since my time there," Magri added.

The reply caused Said Pullicino to remark: "This scandal rocked the world, and everywhere something happened, except Malta… I don't know (ma nafx jien)."

The public inquiry returned after a three-month lull because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The inquiry is tasked, among others, to determine whether the State did all it can to prevent the murder from happening.

The inquiry is led by retired judge Michael Mallia, former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro.

15:35 Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
15:35 The next sitting will be held on Wednesday at 9:30am. Kurt Sansone
15:35 The inquiry is over for today. Magri will testify again on Friday at 9:30am. Kurt Sansone
15:33 Magri says that he does not have the information but will be willing to verify with police force records. Kurt Sansone
15:22 Comodini Cachia asks whether any roadblocks were carried out between August and October 2017, to substantiate Melvin Theuma's claim that the Degiorgios had found a roadblock on the way to Daphne's house. Kurt Sansone
15:17 Magri: “No, they are no longer involved but I’m not sure why.” Kurt Sansone
15:16 Comodini Cachia goes on to ask about the FBI and whether they are still involved in the murder investigation. Kurt Sansone
15:15 Magri insists that all investigations continued under his leadership. He insists he crippled and slowed down other departments to ensure that all key investigations are well-staffed. Kurt Sansone
15:13 Magri: "I learnt about it from the newspapers." Kurt Sansone
15:13 She also asks Magri, whether he knew about Valletta’s relationship with Fenech. Kurt Sansone
15:12 Comodini Cachia: "So you're not interested in what he says on WhatsApp?" Kurt Sansone
15:11 Going back to the Silvio Valletta case, Comodini Cachia asks what evidence was gathered from him. Magri says that only Valletta’s call logs were taken. Kurt Sansone
15:10 Said Pullicino: "This scandal rocked the world, and everywhere something happened, except Malta… I don't know (ma nafx jien)." Kurt Sansone
15:09 "I beefed up the unit since my time there," Magri continues. Kurt Sansone
15:09 Magri says that there was a problem with the unit tasked with investigating such matters not having enough staff Kurt Sansone
15:08 Said Pullicino: "Did you investigate anybody which was mentioned in the Panama Papers, apart from the same five persons we hear about?” Kurt Sansone
15:06 Said Pullicino switches to the Panama Papers scandal. The local aspect of the international scandal was revealed by Caruana Galizia in February 2016 when she wrote about the fact that then minister Konrad Mizzi and then chief of staff Keith Schembri had opened secretive companies in Panama. Kurt Sansone
15:04 Judge Said Pullicio remarks on the lack of knowhow that is becoming “symptomatic of the police corps”. "It as if no one knows what is going on," he says. Kurt Sansone
15:03 He says that in issues like these, the internal affairs unit do not carry out a criminal investigation. Kurt Sansone
15:03 Comodini Cachia says that hats off to Magri, he had told the police's internal affairs unit to launch an investigation into the traffic section scandal. "So, when you had leaks from the police, didn't you feel that the internal affairs unit had to investigate the matter?” Kurt Sansone
15:01 Magri: "No. Valletta denied the claims categorically." Kurt Sansone
15:00 Judge Lofaro interjects: “Did you take Valletta’s laptops, hard drives, and mobiles despite his denial?” Kurt Sansone
14:59 Mallia goes on to ask: “Has an investigation been launched into the leaks?” Kurt Sansone
14:58 Magri: “I don't know.” Kurt Sansone
14:58 Judge Michael Mallia adds to the question: “Can we agree that the leaks emerged from the police?” Kurt Sansone
14:57 Comodini Cachia asks about the presumed leaks from the police force which led Melvin Theuma to know that police would be arresting him. Kurt Sansone
14:57 Magri says Valletta has categorically denied the allegations. Kurt Sansone
14:56 Valletta has been indicated by pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma as one of the informants to Fenech, leaking important information about the Caruana Galizia murder investigation. Kurt Sansone
14:54 Lofaro asks what happened with former deputy police chief Silvio Valletta, whose name cropped during the compilation of evidence against Fenech. The judge asks at what stage had the investigation into Valletta arrived. Kurt Sansone
14:53 Magri says three people and Yorgen Fenech have been apprehended and stand charged in court. "There must be something good going on, I think," Magri says. Kurt Sansone
14:52 Judge Abigail Lofaro asks: “You seem to be content with how things are going.” Kurt Sansone
14:51 Magri was appointed acting police commissioner in January, after Lawrence Cutajar resigned, following a change in prime minister. Kurt Sansone
14:50 Magri nods half-heartedly. He insists he was appointed to the post for a short period of time. "I am only here to keep the ship going, there is still much more needed to be done." Kurt Sansone
14:48 Judge Said Pullicino asks further: “So can you say that you made the task force function?” Kurt Sansone
14:48 Magri says that soon after being made acting police commissioner earlier this year, he had a meeting with Europol where they asked him if he was still interested in their collaboration. Magri adds that he also formed a task force made up of personnel from different departments, to investigate cases related to Daphne, such as 17 Black and Pilatus Bank. “I beefed up the task force in order to equip it in the best way possible,” he says. Kurt Sansone
14:46 Magri is asked where he was on the day of Daphne’s murder – 16 October 2017. “I was in a meeting and didn't go onsite,” he replies. Kurt Sansone
14:45 Last January it emerged during testimony given by former police commissioner Michael Cassar that Operation Green was the title for an investigation into former chief of staff Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna of Nexia BT. Kurt Sansone
14:43 Magri says that he was not involved in the FIAU's work. Kurt Sansone
14:42 Comodini Cachia asks what happened in the months after Cassar's resignation. She asks whether Magri was involved in the FIAU's work, and about a certain Operation Green. Kurt Sansone
14:41 Magri replies that there was no one, as the official announcement was not published in the Government Gazette yet. Kurt Sansone
14:40 Cassar had resigned from police commissioner in April 2016. Kurt Sansone
14:40 Comodini Cachia asks who was police commissioner at the time after Michael Cassar’s resignation? Kurt Sansone
14:39 “I don't know,” Magri replies. Kurt Sansone
14:38 Inquiry judge Joseph Said Pullicino continues to press on the matter: “Did you ever go back and review the case? Did you ever think that maybe Daphne needed better protection?” Kurt Sansone
14:38 Comodini Cachia asks him to clear the ambiguity and explain if the police felt that it was appropriate at the time to only protect Daphne using an RIU patrol. Kurt Sansone
14:37 Magri says that they did, but doesn't recall with whom he discussed the issue. All he remembers is that the police commissioner was part of the discussion. Kurt Sansone
14:35 Comodini Cachia asks: “Following the 17 Black story [which Daphne first wrote about in a cryptic fashion in February 2017] did you discuss whether Daphne deserved police protection?” Kurt Sansone
14:34 He says the decision is taken by the RIU. Kurt Sansone
14:30 Comodini Cachia continues to asks about police protection: "Is police protection asked for, or do police post someone if they feel someone is in danger?" Kurt Sansone
14:28 Comodini Cachia asks Magri if the police rapid intervention unit had carried out operations outside her house "like roadblocks", to which he answers: “I don’t know.” Kurt Sansone
14:27 Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia, appearing for the Caruana Galizia family, says that Rizzo had said that despite not wanting, he would have still posted police outside her house. Kurt Sansone
14:26 Magri replies that he believes he had heard former police commissioner John Rizzo say it. Kurt Sansone
14:25 Judges ask again: "Did Daphne ever tell you not to post police outside her house?" Kurt Sansone
14:21 However, Magri says that the police still did the rounds outside her home during patrols. Kurt Sansone
14:20 Magri is asked about police protection for Daphne Caruana Galizia, to which he replies that she did not want a police officer posted outside her house. Kurt Sansone
14:19 Judges ask if Magri was involved in the protection of people, to which he says no. Kurt Sansone
14:19 Magri served under both. Kurt Sansone
14:18 The judges ask if Magri had worked with former police commissioners Michael Cassar and Lawrence Cutajar. Kurt Sansone
14:17 The public inquiry is headed by retired judge Michael Mallia with former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro as members. Kurt Sansone
14:16 Acting Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri takes the witness stand. He says he has been in the police corps for 36 years. Kurt Sansone
14:14 It appears we are starting earlier. The judges presiding over the inquiry have entered the court room. Kurt Sansone
14:08 The public inquiry is expected to start at 2:30pm. Follow our live updates here. Kurt Sansone
14:08 Good afternoon. Kurt Sansone