Attorney General’s plea bargain to Vincent Muscat il-Koħħu was leaked to middleman

Yorgen Fenech’s associate told Theuma that Vincent Muscat had refused 30-year plea bargain, revealing extent of investigation’s leaks

Middleman: Melvin Theuma (left) was kept abreast of Vincent Muscat’s (right) requests for a pardon, and of his refusal of a 30-year prison sentence deal
Middleman: Melvin Theuma (left) was kept abreast of Vincent Muscat’s (right) requests for a pardon, and of his refusal of a 30-year prison sentence deal

Audio-clips from recordings made by Daphne Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma will reveal that he had been kept abreast of a request for a presidential pardon by Vincent Muscat, il-Kohhu, one of the men being accused of executing the assassination. 

The evidence is part of the same body of discussions Theuma was having with alleged mastermind Yorgen Fenech’s business partner, Johann Cremona, who in various discussions with Theuma had assured him he would have been shielded by the former prime minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.  

Theuma, who turned state witness in the murder case, is giving testimony in the last weeks to back up secret recordings he made of his conversations with Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech. 

But a source privy to the recordings says Theuma was kept in the know of legal developments known only to police and the Attorney General, when Muscat started sharing what he knew of the assassination plot in exchange for a pardon. 

In the conversations, Cremona – a business associate of Fenech who knew Keith Schembri –informs Theuma that Muscat was engaged in a plea bargain with the deputy Attorney General, Philip Galea Farrugia, but that the offer he was made had been refused. 

Cremona specifically told Theuma that Muscat had been offered a 30-year sentence, but that the accused had refused it. 

“The recordings between Cremona and Theuma clearly have Cremona telling the middleman not to tell Yorgen Fenech of the information he is being given. Cremona says ‘you know what Kohhu… look… tomorrow he’s going to say that what he said about you what false, right? Which means, Keith was protecting you without telling anyone… because it benefits him.’” 

The source suggests that Cremona was telling Theuma that after Muscat did not get an offer for a drastically reduced prison sentence, he was recanting all he had told the police. In an ostensible reference to Keith Schembri, he claims the positive outcome for Theuma – since the middleman was known to Muscat – was down to some form of protection he was getting. 

At the time, Schembri was well-placed to know many details on the Caruana Galizia investigation given that he was privy to the Security Service briefings given to Joseph Muscat. 

According to MaltaToday’s source, in their conversation Schembri is heard showing Theuma a piece of paper to prove that Muscat was not proceeding on the pardon. “He tells Theuma, ‘do you understand, he did not accept the deal… these guys don’t care… I asked for this favour myself… I’m here with facts, not words, he doesn’t want the 30 years.” 

In December 2019, Muscat – one of the three men accused of the Caruana Galizia murder – wrote through his lawyer Marc Sant, requesting a pardon from the President of the Republic George Vella in return for “all the information he knows on various facts” – hinting that former Schembri himself had been decisive in the failure of an earlier pardon attempt. 

The letter had said: “Back in April 2018 Vincent Muscat had met with and spoken to the officer in charge of the investigation of this case, Inspector Keith Arnaud. This can be confirmed by the Inspector himself. Following this encounter a number of other meetings were held with Inspector Arnaud where Vincent Muscat had provided information that is turning out to be crucial for substantial progress being made towards solving this case.” 

“For example, thanks to the information provided by Vincent Muscat the investigations narrowed in on, followed and subsequently arrested a certain Melvin Theuma. This arrest took place during November of this year. 

“In the past days, Your Excellency has accepted the recommendation of the Prime Minister to grant a pardon to Melvin Theuma. The irony in this is that this same person that Vincent Muscat mentioned to the investigators is now being brought by the prosecution to give evidence against Vincent Muscat himself.” 

Muscat has maintained that the information he provided to Inspector Arnaud was what, in fact, led to the arrest of Melvin Theuma. But the prosecution had only requested that Melvin Theuma testifies before the Court of Magistrates on 26 November 2019 – that is almost four months after the Attorney General had issued the Bill of Indictment against Muscat and the other co-accused, and when the preliminary pleas before the Criminal Court had been submitted and oral submissions nearing their end. 

Vincent Muscat had already started co-operating with Inspector Arnaud and working towards obtaining the prerogative of mercy in return, read the letter. He implied that Keith Schembri had worked to have his pardon denied: “...in view of the revelations emerging in the past days, Vincent Muscat is deeply concerned that his first request to be granted the prerogative of mercy might not have been handled in the proper, correct and just manner. This concern results from the possibility that a person or persons having a possible direct or indirect interest in diverting or delaying these investigations was being updated on the investigations and also on the request for mercy made by Vincent Muscat.”

More in National