Ex police chief called Theuma’s friend, Edwin il-Ġojja, on eve of testimony

Lawrence Cutajar spoke to Edwin Brincat ‘il-Ġojja’ on the eve of their testimony in court in compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech

Ex-Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar
Ex-Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar

Ex-police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar was in contact with Edwin Brincat, known as il-Ġojja, on the eve of his testimony in the compilation of evidence against the alleged mastermind in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder. 

The former police chief called Brincat, a known confidant of middleman Melvin Theuma, on the night of 14 June 2020 at 7:55pm, and spent 14 minutes in conversation with him. 

The next day, Cutajar testified in the compilation of evidence, after which the presiding magistrate ordered that he be formally investigated on allegations that he tipped off Theuma about ongoing investigations back in 2019. 

On that same day, 15 June, the court also heard testimony from Edgar (aka Edwin) Brincat, a friend of both Cutajar and Theuma, who insisted both men did not know each other.  

According to sources close to the investigation, Cutajar called Brincat from a location in Luqa; Brincat was in Attard at that point. 

Contacted on Saturday, Cutajar said he was aware that Brincat’s telephone “could be under observation”. 

“I do not remember why I would have called him. If anything, the fact that I did call him knowing his line would be under observation, shows that I have nothing to hide.” 

MaltaToday specifically asked Cutajar whether he had called Brincat to make sure they would align the versions of their testimonies in court. “I cannot remember,” Cutajar said. “If I spoke to him, I would have told him that he should say nothing but the truth when he testifies, just as I said the truth.” 

Cutajar told MaltaToday he has not spoken to Brincat since then, although he was unable to recall the 14 June evening conversation. 

The call between the two men reinforces the connection between Cutajar and Brincat, a close friend of Theuma who is believed to have first convinced the murder middleman to record his conversations with Yorgen Fenech and other associates linked to the murder. 

Cutajar was revealed by The Times of having held two secret meetings with Il-Ġojja during the course of the murder investigation. The first secret meeting between the two occurred when the team of murder investigators had settled on a plan on how to arrest Theuma at some point in 2019

But the meeting happened without the knowledge of the investigative team and raised serious concerns of “possible collusion” between the former police chief and one of the suspected players in the murder investigation, when it was flagged by investigative partners at a later date. 

Despite being urged not to get involved in the murder investigation, Cutajar met Brincat a second time just as the murder investigation team had decided on a tentative date to arrest Theuma – just days before the 2019 arrest eventually took place. Cutajar had insisted they were done in good faith to try to help the investigation. 

When he resigned as police commissioner in 2020, Cutajar was made a consultant by the Abela government on a salary of more than €31,000 for a part-time role.  

Brincat-Theuma connection 

Police investigators in the Caruana Galizia assassination were already concerned that middleman Melvin Theuma was coached by Brincat in how to record Fenech and verbalise his connection to the journalist’s murder. 

After Theuma’s arrest in November 2019, investigators summoned Brincat, asking him to explain his telephone conversations with Theuma.   

In the Malta Security Service phone taps played out during that interrogation – on the eve of Theuma’s pardon being recommended by then police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar – Brincat can be heard advising Theuma on what to do. 

The phone-calls were made weeks or months before the November arrest: “I’m calling to tell you... that when you speak, you mention his [Fenech’s] name... so if you have to make someone hear it, his name is heard... And mention Kenneth [Camilleri’s] name, mention it... so they can hear themselves being mentioned, so you get their names on it... and say ‘qabbadtni’ (you recruited me)... all words that will work against him... keep it mind.”   

Investigators warned Brincat that if it resulted that he had coached Theuma, it could endanger the middleman’s pardon. “Do you want us to say that you framed Yorgen Fenech? Isn’t this your advice to a friend? You didn’t break the law by telling him to record the conversation... it was after the murder...”  

Bribery allegation   

The suggestion of police collusion has been formally mentioned in court evidence when Johann Cremona, a business associate of Yorgen Fenech, said Theuma had been tipped off by Cutajar that he was being investigated over money laundering. 

It was the money laundering arrest in November 2019, which Theuma was anxious about, that pushed him to reveal the recordings to the murder investigators and which prompted the arrest of Yorgen Fenech.   

Cremona claimed Cutajar had told Theuma that Europol knew of his recordings and that Theuma had even played recordings to Cutajar before the arrest. 

On his part, Brincat insisted in open court that Cutajar and Theuma did not know each other.   

But according to a recorded phone conversation between Theuma and Cremona, the middleman intended to pass on €15,000 to Cutajar in his bid to obtain a presidential pardon, ahead of his money laundering arrest.   

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.