Caruana Galizia murder compilation: Melvin Theuma says he feared Yorgen Fenech would poison him

The compilation of evidence against murder suspects George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat continues with Melvin Theuma's testimony

The accused (left to right) Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio
The accused (left to right) Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio

Melvin Theuma feared that Yorgen Fenech would try to eliminate him after Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered, a court heard.

Testifying in the compilation of evidence against three men accused of executing the murder, Theuma said he threw away food and wine gifts from Fenech out of fear the businessman would try to poison him.

“I feared he would poison me. I was scared of everything coming from him,” Theuma said. He had also cancelled at the last minute, a trip to France financed by Fenech.

Theuma acted as middleman between Fenech and the three men who carried out the assassination. "Who had blood on Yorgen Fenech? Melvin Theuma had!" the pardoned middleman testified.

Under cross-examination by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Theuma said he was going to kill himself by jumping off a roof, but the mental image of Yorgen Fenech “sitting cross-legged with a cigar in his mouth” after getting away with murder had stopped him from doing so.

George Degiorgio 55, known as Iċ-Ċiniż, Alfred Degiorgio, 53, known as il-Fulu and Vincent Muscat, 55, known as il-Koħħu are charged with murder and a number of charges relating to explosives.

Today's sitting was cut short after eight recordings could not be played because they required a particular software. Defence lawyers William Cuschieri and Marc Sant asked the court to appoint an expert and have the recordings transcribed as was the case with other recordings.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit is presiding.

Lawyer Marc Sant is appearing for Vince Muscat. Lawyer William Cuschieri is appearing for the Degiorgio brothers.

Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspector Kurt Zahra are prosecuting with the help of Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.

15:33 And with that the sitting abruptly comes to an end. The magistrate leaves the courtroom. No date is set for the next sitting. That's all for today. Thank you for following. A summary of proceedings will be provided shortly. Kurt Sansone
15:30 Cuschieri dictates a note to the court in which he says that some of the recordings on the hard drive provided to the defence were not easily accessible and so should be made accessible through a transcript. Sant seconds the suggestion. With regards to the question made to Melvin Theuma about the date of one of the recordings, Sant says he will ask the court expert to confirm the details of the recording. Kurt Sansone
15:27 Cuschieri says that to dictate a note, asking for a transcription, which would then be denied by a superior court after the prosecution "trips him up" would not be ideal. The court says this would not happen as there are many witnesses here today. Cuschieri says he doesn't have much faith in the media. He complains that the media misreported him today as having been called out of the hall by Charles Mercieca when in fact he was called out by a legal procurator to sign a counter warrant. The reference is to a previous observation in this blog. Kurt Sansone
15:21 Cuschieri, the court and the prosecution continue to lock horns on the transcription of the eight recordings. The expert would have to hear the files and then transcribe them, points out the court. Cuschieri agrees. Kurt Sansone
15:20 Vincent Muscat leans forward and says something to Cuschieri. He is not happy. Kurt Sansone
15:19 Theuma has ended his testimony for today. Kurt Sansone
15:16 Theuma is dismissed by the court and leaves, accompanied by three security officers. Kurt Sansone
15:15 The law doesn't allow for the recordings to be heard for the first time by the Criminal Court, says Cuschieri. Kurt Sansone
15:13 Arnaud points out that now, Sant had access to the recordings. Cuschieri sticks to his guns, insisting on a transcript being provided. Kurt Sansone
15:12 Cuschieri says a transcript had to be done of the recordings. He tells the court: “I, William Cuschieri, do not have access to the recordings, no matter what methods you used.” Kurt Sansone
15:11 Arnaud says the issue is the software used to access the data. “The extraction is the same,” he explains in relation to the recordings that cannot be played. Kurt Sansone
15:09 The recordings issue appears to have been settled and the eight recordings are the same. Kurt Sansone
15:07 Sant and Arnaud emerge from the other room. Kurt Sansone
15:07 Theuma says he was going to kill himself by jumping off a roof, but the mental image of Yorgen Fenech “sitting cross-legged with a cigar in his mouth” after getting away with murder had stopped him from doing so. Kurt Sansone
15:06 Theuma: “Who had blood on Yorgen Fenech? Melvin Theuma had!” Kurt Sansone
15:05 Theuma says an airline ticket to France had been bought for him “not long before the travel date” but cancelled at the last minute out of fear. Kurt Sansone
15:04 Theuma explains that he had thrown away food and wine gifts given to him by Fenech since he was concerned that they might be poisoned. “I feared he would poison me. I was scared of everything coming from him,” Theuma says. Kurt Sansone
15:03 Theuma replies in a hoarse voice: “I said it to Yorgen. I was worried in the first few days when they did it to her and then he had reassured me.” Kurt Sansone
15:02 He refers to a transcript of a conversation recorded by Theuma in which the word “għamluhielha” is heard. Azzopardi: “You said, ‘aħna lestejniha, għamluhielha...’. Who did you say that to?” Kurt Sansone
14:59 Lawyer Marc Sant and Superintendent Keith Arnaud go to another room to check the files. Meanwhile, it’s Jason Azzopardi’s turn to cross-examine Theuma. Kurt Sansone
14:58 The prosecution is saying that it has exhibited everything found on the person of Melvin Theuma at the moment of his arrest. Kurt Sansone
14:52 “I wish I could help you but the court expert is not answering our calls. We’ve sent him an email and also tried calling but there's no answer yet,” the magistrate says. She explains to Sant that he may go to a separate room to hear what is on the pen drive he has, while parte civile lawyer Jason Azopardi conducts his re-examination of the witness. Kurt Sansone
14:49 “It is not possible to recover the data,” says the magistrate, reading out a message the IT expert has just sent her. Lawyer William Cuschieri says that he is concerned that there is something the prosecution knows and which it is not sharing with the defence. Kurt Sansone
14:47 Cuschieri suggests that the recordings, which his client want, are those that need a special application to open. The court says that the unopened files are “partly recovered data” according to the expert's report. Kurt Sansone
14:46 A recording is being played but the court stops it after 30 seconds of rustling are heard. The court says it cannot get through to the appointed IT expert right now. He had completed his task and cannot do further work unless re-appointed by the court, points out the magistrate. Kurt Sansone
14:41 The court technician tries to open the indicated files with no success. Kurt Sansone
14:41 Sant is writing down the file names – zeros and ones – pertaining to the problematic files and will hand it to the court. Lawyer Charles Mercieca enters the courtroom and sits down at the back. Kurt Sansone
14:37 Meanwhile, lawyer William Cuschieri is quietly called out of the courtroom by Charles Mercieca, who is part of Yorgen Fenech’s defence team. Cuschieri returns, scribbles something on a piece of paper and hands the paper to someone outside the courtroom. It is unclear whether this has anything to do with the compilation of evidence. Kurt Sansone
14:36 The court invites Sant to dictate a note. He formally indicates that there are a number of recordings which he couldn't access. Kurt Sansone
14:35 One of the Degiorgio brothers is heard saying “diżastru (what a disaster)” as the lawyer and the IT technician struggle with the recordings. Kurt Sansone
14:35 Melvin Theuma stands glumly on the stand, blinking slowly as the lawyer indicates the files. There is a problem with opening some eight files. Kurt Sansone
14:27 The lawyer is specifying to the court IT technician, which files are to be played. Kurt Sansone
14:24 The hard drives have been secured with a write blocker to avoid tampering, points out the magistrate. Kurt Sansone
14:24 Arnaud says maybe they were mistaken. The witness had always said that he had recorded on a different date, he insists. However, Marc Sant says he had engaged a third-party expert to extract recordings from a hard drive. This is objected to by the other side, which argue that an ex-parte expert would have to testify as well. Kurt Sansone
14:21 Sant points out that the recording is dated after the arrest of the Degiorgios: ‘Created date 17 December 2017’. Theuma had said he started recording conversations sometime in 2018 when Vince Muscat started talking and asked for a pardon. “I think you might be lying,” Sant says. Kurt Sansone
14:16 A recording is played. The courtroom listens intently as muffled voices are heard amongst loud crackling and rustling sounds. Kurt Sansone
14:14 Pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma takes the stand. He will be cross-examined by Marc Sant. Kurt Sansone
14:14 Lawyers William Cuschieri for the Degiorgios and Philip Galea Farrugia for the Attorney General's Office have entered the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
14:13 Sant is representing Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu. Kurt Sansone
14:12 The accused are inside the courtroom, accompanied by security officers. The court and Marc Sant are thrashing out an administrative issue with the recordings and the hard drives. Kurt Sansone
14:03 Pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma is expected to continue testifying. Kurt Sansone
14:00 We are in court waiting for another sitting to start in the compilation of evidence against George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat. The three men are charged with executing the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. Kurt Sansone
13:59 Good afternoon. Kurt Sansone




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