Now under investigation, former police chief denies imperiling Caruana Galizia investigation

“My aim was to find the recordings... as in fact happened. If they had not been found, I would say there is a real reason for these doubts to be placed.”

Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar
Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar

Malta’s former commissioner of police Lawrence Cutajar has denied having spoken to the Caruana Galizia assassination middleman Melvin Theuma or taken payment for informing Theuma of his pending arrest.

In an interview with The Times, the former police chief, now under investigation, declared that the Caruana Galizia assassination was one of the greatest disappointments of his career.  “We had high profile cases in Malta… Raymond Caruana for example. Was anyone ever taken to court, 30 or 35 years later? And now let me ask you one. All these years, in connection with these cases, were there ever any requests for resignations because the cases happened and were never solved? No.”

Cutajar also said that “not once” had former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri ever give him any instructions, or that he had withheld investigations on cases flagged by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

Cutajar said he knew Edwin Brincat ‘il-Gojja’, a confidant of Melvin Theuma, when he was an inspector in Żejtun. “I met him again when I was Superintendent with the Qormi District, and I would go down to the Marsa race track on work as he had a betting shop. And I would see him there, we would sometimes talk about trivial matters…”

Brincat is believed to have informed Theuma of his pending arrest on a money laundering charge, after speaking to Cutajar.

Cutajar said that Brincat actually contacted him at his home about a fine he had received, “and I got the idea [to talk to him about the recordings]. The investigators knew of the existence of recordings, through [telephone tapping] interceptions. Then a dilemma presented itself... should we organise a raid to look for the recordings or do we keep collecting information and do a side investigation into money laundering? This was where I shouldered the most responsibility. And I want to be honest, not everyone agreed with my decision [to hold off on the raid].”

Cutajar said the money laundering investigation was a Plan B for the police not to reveal their hand by going straight in for the recordings. “It was obvious that Melvin Theuma didn’t make these recordings for nothing, he did it to have a sort of guarantee.”

Cutajar also said that after his second meeting, he informed the investigators himself.

Cutajar claimed he could not have risked the investigation, believing that Theuma would have never deleted the recordings. “You have to weigh everything... we were panicking about these recordings,” he said when told that he had actually told Brincat the police knew of the recordings.

“It could have been my actions when I asked Edwin Brincat if these recordings existed. It could be, I can’t deny it. In fact as you are saying, the doubts have been cast. But my aim was to find the recordings... as in fact happened. If they had not been found, I would say there is a real reason for these doubts to be placed.”

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