€24,000 Mayo clinic bill Fenech paid for Keith Schembri

Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech paid two bills for Schembri’s health costs: one costing €10,000, the other €14,000

Keith Schembri smiles as he makes his way to the law courts to testify in a constitutional case filed by Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind behind the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination
Keith Schembri smiles as he makes his way to the law courts to testify in a constitutional case filed by Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind behind the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination

The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Keith Schembri and the Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech were great friends.

But that friendship ran deeper than most people ever knew. For at the height of Schembri’s most profound life challenge – an eye tumour which required him to seek treatment overseas – it was Fenech that Schembri found by his side, both in terms of moral support as well as financial support.

It was Fenech who footed part of the bill for Schembri at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 2016, this newspaper has learnt; and it was Fenech who stayed by Schembri’s side during part of this stay.

MaltaToday has learnt that Fenech paid two bills for Schembri’s health costs: one costing €10,000, the other €14,000, sources close to the Fenech family said.

Police investigators have seized all computer data and documents in Fenech’s possession, while he is now in jail facing charges of having masterminded the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Keith Schembri, who according to State’s evidence Melvin Theuma, had forewarned Fenech of the police raid on the men accused of carrying out the car bomb execution of Caruana Galizia, is now being investigated for homicide and tampering with evidence.

Schembri’s doctor, who also happens to be Yorgen Fenech’s doctor, has also been said to have accompanied Schembri on visits to the US for cancer treatment.

Keith Schembri’s health became a bone of contention in 2016 when Caruana Galizia then wrote that he had contracted a “fatal illness” as early as 2015.

She had revealed how Schembri had stayed at Casa di Cura Mater Dei, a private hospital in Rome’s Parioli neighbourhood between 22-24 April 2016. This was around the time that the Panama Papers had revealed Schembri to have a secret offshore company.

Caruana Galizia published numerous articles at this stage on the subject of Panama and Schembri’s inoperable eye tumour and how the chief-of-staff “has only been given some months left to live.”

The Nationalist Party newspaper Il-Mument went so far as to follow up this story with one of their own: James Piscopo, the former PL CEO, was set to replace Schembri.

In December of 2016, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat finally broke the silence on his chief of staff’s condition and said that Schembri was “alive and kicking” and that he would return to his office in Castille after a short hiatus.  “He is undergoing some treatment but his health is not as has been reported by some sections of the media. I am still waiting for an apology from that section of the media,” he said.

These stories irked Schembri to the point that he talked about them at length during testimonies he made during the Egrant inquiry. Schembri had told magistrate Aaron Bugeja that Caruana Galizia “crossed the limit” when she wrote about his health problems.

“It can be on the record or off the record. You’re asking me about this article writer, I think this person has caused a lot of harm to my personal life and my family life,” Schembri had told the magistrate.

“Everyone knows that I have health problems, and she invented a condition, made my family crazy. I was going to America for treatment and she provided my date of death without even… I am living proof of her lies, you see. I don’t think it’s right, as in the data protection commissioner forced her to delete the claim that I have an inoperable eye tumour from her site or pay €2,500 and €250 a day… and the article is still online, you see.

“It’s not because I want to squabble, I don’t mind, but she has crossed the limit. At the worst time of my life, it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind… I was at a clinic in America, going for a PET scan, I had to wait for half an hour and I saw a comment, ‘make cancer bring him down’. I have no respect… I don’t know how to hate but I have no respect for people like that and I think I am currently responding to a frame-up.

“She’s been lying about me for weeks, a year, a year and a half and I promised myself that I wasn’t going to sue her for libel. However, last week I opened two libel suits against her. It can’t go on like this... When your 13-year-old daughter approaches you and says, ‘Daddy, they said you’re going die at school’ and you don’t know how to respond… I feel hurt that I am here today responding to these allegations.”

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