Melvin Theuma offered Edwin Brincat €15,000 to give to former commissioner Lawrence Cutajar

Melvin Theuma’s recorded conversations show attempt to bribe Commissioner of Police

Former Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar
Former Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar

Melvin Theuma intended to pass on €15,000 to former Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar in his bid to obtain a presidential pardon, ahead of his arrest on a money laundering charge.

The claim was made by Theuma himself in one of the conversations he recorded secretly, and which he later gave to police after his arrest in November 2019, when he turned State’s evidence to reveal the truth into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.

The conversations, recorded in the weeks before Theuma was made aware that he would be arrested on a charge of money laundering, were held with Johann Cremona, business associate to Yorgen Fenech – the alleged mastermind.

At this stage, it appears Cremona was in close contact with Kenneth Camilleri, the Security Services detail assigned to Castille and who acted as a messenger to Keith Schembri, the chief of staff to former PM Joseph Muscat.

The spirit of the conversations are disparaging of Yorgen Fenech, apart from pointing to collusion with top police brass and Castille, and Melvin Theuma speaks freely of sums of money intended to influence Lawrence Cutajar to green-light a presidential pardon for him.

Theuma says in the recorded conversations that he had given €15,000 to Edwin Brincat ‘il-Ġojja’ – an associate of Theuma’s who enjoyed familiarity with Cutajar himself – so that Cutajar could “take the case and go on holiday”.

“I went to give him the money myself,” Theuma is heard saying of the alleged bribe. “I told him, ‘shall I give them to you in packets of €5,000?’.”

Cremona thinks he is being asked to relay the offer to his own contacts, ostensibly referring to Kenneth Camilleri. But Theuma says he is referring to Edwin Brincat: “No… I told Edwin, I asked him if he wants the cash in packets of five… he said he would take no cash from me, not even if I paid him a shilling a time, because all he wanted is that I get the pardon.”

The degree of detail in the conversations clearly show that both Cremona and Theuma were aware of the police’s next steps in a raid that was to be carried out on Theuma’s properties. Theuma was a loan shark who ran a profitable taxi system outside the Hilton with the blessing of Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, for whom he acted as a gopher and occasional chauffeur. He was apprehensive that police would also raid his partner’s property, while Cremona advises Theuma to hide his illegal lottery booklets at his own property.

Cremona himself suggests in the recorded conversations of having the capacity to influence the police’s actions through his “power to speak to Kenneth… you know from where that is coming.”

The former police commissioner has insisted he never knew or spoke to Theuma, and never accepted money in exchange for information. Now under investigation after court testimony suggesting that he tipped off Theuma about a police raid, Cutajar had said on Xtra that Theuma was bluffing in his conversations with Cremona. Cutajar, who admitted meeting Edwin Brincat allegedly to obtain information on the recordings Theuma was harbouring, claims his interactions were done with the sole intention of obtaining Theuma’s recordings. “When Edwin Brincat came to me, I took the opportunity to try to get something from him. That’s what I decided at that time, and I asked him if he knew where these recordings might be. I felt at that moment that I should take the chance,” Cutajar said, denying having taken any money from Brincat.

However, it is apparent that some form of communication between police top brass was taking place with Castille, at least through the agency of Kenneth Camilleri. The recorded conversations between Cremona and Theuma discuss the rejection of a pardon for Vince Muscat ‘il-Kohhu’ – arrested in December 2019 and accused of having been part of the murder team. In them, Cremona tells Theuma: “I’ll tell you precisely what Kenneth told me: everything depends on you.”

And Theuma tells him: “Oh, how I prayed to God that he is not given a pardon, Johann, how great God is, how I prayed.”

Theuma also claimed it was the police commissioner who told him, or perhaps through a third party, that Interpol were asking the Maltese police why he (Theuma) had not yet been arrested. Cremona retorts, saying that it is likely untrue that Interpol were knocking on the police’s door. “I think the Commissioner wants money,” he tells Theuma.

In other conversations, Theuma reveals that Edwin Brincat had told Cutajar that Theuma was displeased that the police would raid the properties in which his partner and daughter live. To which Cremona replies, that he would inform Kenneth Camilleri on agreeing that the raid would not include his partner’s home.

Theuma’s health ‘stable’

Melvin Theuma, the self-confessed middleman in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, remains in a “stable” condition at Mater Dei Hospital’s Intensive Therapy Unit, the police said on Saturday.

Theuma was found with multiple stab wounds at his Swieqi apartment on Tuesday night.

He was found with damaged vocal cords and multiple stab wounds which police say initial evidence shows were self-inflicted.

The Times reported on Saturday he has written a note from his hospital bed saying he stabbed himself multiple times out of remorse and because his evidence in the murder case was being doubted.