Analysis: Keith Schembri’s day in court

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Disgraced former OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri promised the ‘truth’ ahead of his testimony in court on Monday. Schembri was ordered to testify in the criminal proceedings against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech who stands accused of being an accomplice in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

This newsroom analysed what Schembri said in court under oath on Monday and contrasted it with public statements he himself made, claims others made, and statements made by others under oath.

Presiding Magistrate Rachel Montebello cautioned Schembri when he took the witness stand, that he could opt to use his right to silence. During his testimony Schembri was also warned of perjury and urged to tell the truth. The court asked Schembri whether the others have lied in their testimony, to which he replied that he was only answering for himself.

• After two years publicly denying that he did not know to whom 17 Black belonged, Schembri has admitted in court that he knew it belonged Yorgen Fenech. In Court, Schembri said that he was unaware of the contents of the e-mail sent by his own financial advisers Nexia BT. In the said email, his financial advisers had written that Schembri was to receive large sums of money from 17 Black.

• Schembri had said that he had stopped from undertaking business. However, in court, Schembri said that he had opened his off-shore company in Panama to do business with Fenech once he leaves politics.

• Police Inspector Kurt Zahra said that Dr Adrian Vella had told the Police that Schembri had given him the letter to pass onto murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. Schembri denied writing the letter. In court, Schembri said that the letter did not originate from him and that he did not give the letter to Vella. Vella was Schembri’s family doctor. Schembri told the court that he had been recommended by the Fenech’s.

• State witness Melvin Theuma said that Fenech had spoken to Schembri about the bail request for the Degiorgio brothers. Schembri said that this was not true.

• Schembri told the Court that MaltaToday knew in advance about the raid. The Managing Editor of MaltaToday issued a statement denying the claim.

• Fenech said that Schembri had spoken to Judge Antonio Mizzi. Schembri denied the claim.

• Theuma told the Court that Fenech had told Schembri he was involved in Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Schembri said that this was not true.

• According to Schembri, Fenech had told him that Partit Nazzjonalista leader Adrian Delia had demanded money in order to ensure that David Casa is not re-elected in the European Parliament. Theuma said that Fenech had told him that he offered money to Delia to ensure that Casa is not re-elected. In a sworn affidavit, Delia said that this was not true. Pierre Portelli also denied the claim that he took any money to ensure that Casa is not re-elected. Portelli also issued a statement denying taking any money from Fenech monthly.

• Schembri told the court that politicians, businessmen and police used to be at Fenech’s farmhouse in Haz-Zebbug. He only mentioned Delia and failed to mention anyone else.

• Schembri denied informing Fenech about the date when the Degiorgio brothers would have been arrested.

• Schembri also denied that he wanted to send Kenneth Camilleri to kill Melvin Theuma.

• Fenech had said that Schembri had ordered Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and had claimed that the former OPM Chief of Staff had paid him around €75,000 in a Reebok bag for the murder. Schembri denied.