Attempt to get police off Theuma’s back: ‘You know Kohhu revealed your name, right? Tomorrow he’ll say it’s false’

Melvin Theuma’s name was known early on in the police investigation; as a money laundering investigation caught up with him, an attempt was made to make triggerman Vincent Muscat recant

Middleman Melvin Theuma said: ‘This is some luck’ when he learnt that Vincent Muscat would be made to say that when he named him, he was giving false information
Middleman Melvin Theuma said: ‘This is some luck’ when he learnt that Vincent Muscat would be made to say that when he named him, he was giving false information

The middleman Melvin Theuma was leaked information that accused Vincent Muscat ‘il-Kohhu’, one of the triggermen in the Caruana Galizia assassination, had requested a pardon for information on the journalists’ assassination. 

In conversations with Yorgen Fenech’s business associate Johann Cremona which he recorded on a mobile phone, Theuma was told in August 2019 that Muscat had “tried to reveal” what he knew but that “the court did not even calculate him”. 

Muscat had attempted back in April 2018 to obtain a pardon by offering up Theuma’s name as the middleman who commissioned him and the Degiorgio brothers to carry out the assassination. 

But in recordings presented to the court in the last sitting of the compilation of evidence against the Degiorgios and Muscat, it was also clear that in later September 2019, Cremona had learnt that Muscat would be made to recant the information he gave to the police. 

“You know Kohhu revealed your name, right? Tomorrow he will tell that what he said about you is false. That enough? I tell you… it gives me the shivers!”

The relieved Theuma says: “Ostja!” 

Cremona boasts: “I’m all about action, not words…” 

The conversation appears to be linked to an attempt by Muscat’s now former lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, to convince his client to recant on his information to police inspector Keith Arnaud that Theuma was the middleman. Only two months later in late October, Azzopardi will drop the brief for Muscat when Arnaud realises that he did not want to recant.

Arthur Azzopardi (right) dropped his brief for Vincent Muscat in late October 2019, shortly after Muscat had learned he was being asked to recant
Arthur Azzopardi (right) dropped his brief for Vincent Muscat in late October 2019, shortly after Muscat had learned he was being asked to recant

 

The conversation appears to be linked to an attempt by Muscat’s now former lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, to convince his client to recant on his information to police inspector Keith Arnaud that Theuma was the middleman. Only two months later in November, Azzopardi will drop the brief for Muscat when Arnaud realises that he did not want to recant. 

But in the September conversation, Cremona tells Theuma – apparently reading from some text – that “the client… did not accept a 12-year sentence… he didn’t accept it.” 

 

Theuma says: “This is some luck.” 

Cremona: “Some luck? This goes to Arnaud tomorrow…. Kohhu is going to say the information on Melvin is wrong. That’s it. That is it.” 

The conversation suggests that Muscat’s mentioning of Theuma back in 2018 also led to the money laundering investigation that the middleman was anxious about. “The inspector will tell those abroad… the accused wanted to harm [you] and you won’t have to be arrested,” Cremona says. 

Cremona also states in this same conversation that there are “big threats going on here… with Kohhu’s family. Not money… threats. Fingers crossed, this goes away tomorrow.” 

Cremona also claims that Muscat’s then lawyer Arthur Azzopardi had mentioned Theuma’s name to The Times “some eleven months back” (October 2018). The two men lambasted Azzopardi as being “Cardona’s man”, ostensibly a reference to former minister Chris Cardona. 

“Forget Yorgen… it’s not Keith who harmed you. It’s that bastard Arthur… in reality he [Keith] protected you, he didn’t sleep on it, because as I can make the story out… Keith is not confused, Keith is focused.” 

“The media knows who you are, but they cannot name you. Keith Arnaud said ‘I cannot arrest someone without proof in hand’. That’s how the media was kept at bay, otherwise your name would have been out nine months ago. They’re all out on Yorgen’s name. All out. No secrets. That’s why he’s taking so much blow [cocaine]… he’s going to hang himself, mark my words.” 

But he claims that ‘Keith’ – ostensibly Schembri – mentioned a host of other suspects, of which proof there was none. “It doesn’t pay him that you get caught, because he knows who gets caught if you are arrested…” 

 

Money laundering scare 

In August 2019 Theuma was clearly informed that he was the target of a money laundering investigation initiated by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. 

What followed were recorded conversations which named a host of players, allegedly in connection with the assassination: 

“Turu… he cannot point fingers at anyone,” Cremona told Theuma, referring to defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi. “He is doing it only for the money. He will delay matters for as long as he can… because he knows who’s behind the whole story… and he worked against you, eh. Let’s say it as it is. Not Yorgen, neither Keith. That bastard Arthur did that.” 

The two men appeared confident that pressure from Interpol on the FIAU file on Theuma would be diverted by Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar. 

“When the file is ready they will instruct the Commissioner… he doesn’t know it yet… he’ll pass it on to Raymond,” Cremona says, ostensibly referring to former economic crimes unit inspector Raymond Aquilina. 

Cremona also told Theuma he had suggested “am amount of cash” to be paid to Cutajar. “I’ll go and tell them, ‘here take this’. He doesn’t need to know from who: not Melvin, not Castille, not Kenneth [possibly Camilleri, the former Security Service detail at Castille], not Edwin [probably Brincat ‘il-Gojja’, a confidant of Theuma who knew Cutajar well]… he doesn’t need to know anything. As soon as that file arrives, he will obey: ‘Look here, that file goes to Aquilina.’” 

Cremona even suggested that Aquilina would tell Interpol: “We’ve already arrested him… they must show they have taken action with you even if there’s nothing… we don’t have trouble with Raymond.” 

In another recording in the same week of August 2019, Theuma and Cremona are discussing the possibility that one of the accused currently in jail spills the beans. “The jury will come to an end and they wouldn’t have said a word. They won’t even reveal Cardona,” Theuma says – a possible reference to then minister Chris Cardona. 

In a September recording, Theuma was so determined not to be arrested on the feared money laundering charge, that he is told by Cremona to impart on Yorgen Fenech the importance of speaking to Keith Schembri about the matter. “I will be clear,” Cremona says. “I’ll say, ‘Listen Kenneth, don’t call me on Melvin. He is determined that he will not be picked up by the police. If they raid him, he will reveal everything he knows.” 

 

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