Prison inmate claiming to be Tumas Fenech heir says magnate’s remains removed from grave

Imprisoned man claiming to be Tumas Fenech's illegitimate son says business magnate's remains were ‘moved or substituted’

Tumas Fenech (right) and his children built up a business empire that spans various sectors and includes the Portomaso complex. He died in 1999.
Tumas Fenech (right) and his children built up a business empire that spans various sectors and includes the Portomaso complex. He died in 1999.

A court hearing a case over an inheritance claim by a man purporting to be the late business magnate Tumas Fenech’s illegitimate son, has been told that Fenech’s remains were not found in his grave. 

The man, Victor Buttigieg, had filed a case before the Family Court in 2013, asking that his birth certificate be amended and for DNA testing to be carried out on the deceased’s remains to establish paternity. 

As founder of the Tumas Group of Companies, Tumas Fenech and his children built up a business empire spanning the gaming, management, property development, automotive and hospitality and leisure industries. He is the grandfather of Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of masterminding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Tumas Fenech died in 1999. 

Buttigieg is currently held at the Corradino Correctional Facility, where he is serving time on drug-related charges after a lifetime of criminal convictions. 

In an amazing twist of events, this week his lawyer Edward DeBono filed an urgent court application in the paternity case, informing the court that it had come to Buttigieg’s knowledge that Tumas Fenech’s grave had either been emptied or the remains substituted, in an effort to thwart Buttigieg’s claim. 

Sources said Buttigieg, who has prior convictions for theft and heroin possession and who is currently in prison, is thought to stand to gain “millions” if found to be an heir of Fenech’s. 

DeBono asked the court to order the Addolorata graveyard’s director or the Director for Environmental Health to declare whether the grave in question had been opened in the past few “months or years” after the interment of the remains, as well as whether they were placed elsewhere or substituted and if so, where. 

He also called for DNA comparisons of all the Fenech siblings, as well as himself, in the event that the disinterment request was not upheld, “to ensure that no treachery in all that is being requested for the best conclusion of this case.” 

“Because of the urgency of this content, it is required that the court give orders and take immediate action in the interests of justice,” reads the court application. 

Over the past 22 years, Buttigieg has been in and out of prison. 

In 1999, he was sentenced to eight months in prison for theft, later reduced to six months. After an acquittal on a heroin possession charge in 2003, he was jailed for two years for subsequent charges of heroin possession in 2005, and for six years in 2015, again for heroin possession.

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