Cutajar says he played minimal role in the investigations

Miguela Xuereb

The compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech, accused of complicity in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, continues today.

Highlight’s from today’s sitting

  • The defence asks for Melvin Theuma’s phone to be presented in court. Calls for an investigation into the incident which led to his hospitalisation.
  • Inspector Keith Arnaud says that Yorgen Fenech’s home is in Europol’s possession
  • The defence argues that ‘Recording 9’ should be heard in open court as the police had months to investigate its contents. The prosecution says it hasn’t investigated it yet and asks for it to be played behind closed doors. Jason Azzopardi says he won’t be responsible for any bloodshed resulting from the recording being played in public
  • Ex-commissioner Cutajar says that whoever says that he received money in exchange for Theuma’s pardon “is bluffing or is lying”
  • The day after Theuma’s arrest, Cutajar had a meeting with him which lasted 2 hours

17:22 That's it from our end for today. Thanks for following Newsbook's live blog. A summary of the main points will be uploaded shortly.
Christoph Schwaiger
17:19 The magistrate orders the journalists to leave her courtroom. The proceedings continue behind closed doors
Christoph Schwaiger
17:16 Jason Azzopardi says he won't be taking any responsibility if any public hearing of a recording were to result in bloodshed. "He's pinning it on us," protests the defence.
Christoph Schwaiger
17:15 Mercieca highlights that the prosecution failed to highlight which part of the recording it finds problematic
Christoph Schwaiger
17:12 The magistrate takes note of the defence's arguments
Christoph Schwaiger
17:11 Inspector Arnaud says they heard over a hundred recordings and spoke to various people
Christoph Schwaiger
17:11 The defence reminds the court that the police haven't prosecuted anyone else in the meantime
Christoph Schwaiger
17:10 Mercieca says that Yorgen Fenech deserves a fair and public hearing
Christoph Schwaiger
17:07 Mercieca on behalf of the defence says that there are no new names which haven't been heard yet – bar one. He says that its incredible how a presidential pardon was granted to Melvin Theuma who submitted these recordings months ago yet the police is only starting to investigate some of them now.
Christoph Schwaiger
17:06 Magisrate Montebello says that in light of the ongoing investigations and the mentioning of third parties and circumstances relating to them, the recording should be heard behind closed doors.
Christoph Schwaiger
17:04 The defence points out that the police have had these recordings for 9 months
Christoph Schwaiger
17:02 Keith Arnaud says that one name hasn’t been mentioned yet. He doesn’t want the upcoming recording to be heard in open court. He says that the police hasn’t investigated its contents yet.
Christoph Schwaiger
17:02 The magistrate enters the room
Christoph Schwaiger
17:01 Mercieca and the prosecution exchange some words, "at the end of the day I want the truth" says an inspector
Christoph Schwaiger
16:59 The prosecution team is still huddled around its papers
Christoph Schwaiger
16:57 Journalists are allowed to stay in the room as the prosecution rapidly scans pages of transcripts handed to it by the defence
Christoph Schwaiger
16:56 The Magistrate suspends the sitting for 5 minutes until the defense and prosecution agree on what recording can be played in court
Christoph Schwaiger
16:55 The court is ready to listen to 'Recording 9'
Christoph Schwaiger
16:53 The court is willing to listen to a recording as long as it doesn't interfere with ongoing investigations
Christoph Schwaiger
16:53 Mercieca says he discussed some tapes with Inspector Arnaud – one of them 'contains some names'
Christoph Schwaiger
16:50 Fenech fiddles with his visor as the different legal teams discuss the playing of recordings
Christoph Schwaiger
16:49 Both Yorgen Fenech and Magistrate Montebello enter the court room
Christoph Schwaiger
16:35 Journalists are allowed back in the court room however no proceedings are currently ongoing
Christoph Schwaiger
16:12 Thank you Amy! Journalists are still waiting to be let back in.
Christoph Schwaiger
15:39 Yorgen Fenech's defence team had informed the court that the recording to be played was around 27 minutes long. This was about an hour and 30 mins ago.
Amy Borg
15:38 The court is still hearing the recordings.
Amy Borg
15:38 The press is still waiting outside.
Amy Borg
14:50 For the recordings to be heard is taking longer than expected.
Amy Borg
14:38 Lawrence Cutajar is waiting outside the courtroom too.
Amy Borg
14:37 The recording played in court is around 27 minutes long.
Amy Borg
14:30 We are still waiting outside the courtroom.
Amy Borg
14:13 The press and members of the public were asked to leave the courtroom.
Amy Borg
14:11 Both parties have agreed that the recording will be heard behind closed doors.
Amy Borg
14:10 We are back in session.
Amy Borg
13:50 Magistrate Montebello suspended the courtroom for a few minutes until the lawyers agree on the tapes to be played.
Amy Borg
13:45 The court now has to decide if the recordings will be heard today.
Amy Borg
13:43 Cutajar's testimony is suspended for a few minutes. He was also advised not to consult the media while waiting outside the courtroom.
Amy Borg
13:42 Mercieca asked if tape 2 voice 2 could be played in court.
Amy Borg
13:38 Mercieca is asking again about Cutajar's connections with Il-Gojja.

"Have you ever received money from Brincat?"

Magistrate Montebello warns the witness to address the court and not the lawyer and to not pass any comments.
Amy Borg
13:37 "Whoever says someone received money in exchange for the presidential pardon, is bluffing or lying." – said Cutajar.
Amy Borg
13:36 Magistrate Montebello said that the defence should move on to the next question.
Amy Borg
13:36 Mercieca asked him to list the 1st 6 conditions.
Amy Borg
13:35 Lawyer Mercieca made reference to the Presidential Pardon conditions.
Amy Borg
13:34 He had messaged Brincat "Shall we meet?"

Cutajar continued saying that Brincat knew he was chasing him for information on Theuma.
Amy Borg
13:32 "My role in the investigation was minimal" – stated Lawrence Cutajar.
Amy Borg
13:29 "Melvin Theuma had no intention of destroying the recordings"- said Cutajar.
Amy Borg
13:24 Lawrence Cutajar said that he had asked Brincat to if he had Theuma's tapes.

This happened at around November last year.
Amy Borg
13:19 Cutajar said that the Police had two options when faced with a presidential pardon;

To not grant him the pardon and to continue investigating Theuma just in case there was no pertinent information on the murder.

Or to grant him the pardon and then the police would not be able to accuse Theuma on money laundering.
Amy Borg
13:16 Asked if he knew if Theuma was a friend of Brincat, Cutajar said there were times they saw them together.
Amy Borg
13:15 "I have known Brincat since the '90s" – confirmed Lawrence Cutajar.
Amy Borg
13:14 Mercieca asked Cutajar about his connections with Edwin Brincat.
Amy Borg
13:13 "Have you ever met Edwin Brincat?" – asked Mercieca

"He came around May with a ticket" – said Cutajar
Amy Borg
13:10 "Theuma asked for Simon Busuttil, for Jason Azzopardi, Beppe Fenech Adami and Karol Aquilina." – said Cutajar.

"He said he wanted a Nationalist Lawyer" – said Cutajar.
Amy Borg
13:08 Cutajar said that the Anti-Fraud section arrested Theuma.

He also confirmed that he immediately asked for his lawyers.
Amy Borg
13:08 Lawyer Mercieca is now asking questions who arrested Theuma.
Amy Borg
13:06 Lawyer Mercieca is insisting that the presidential pardon was granted after the 2hour meeting with Theuma on the 15th of November.

Cutajar said it is not possible because at the time they did not hear the recordings.
Amy Borg
13:05 Cutajar said that the presidential pardon was granted to Theuma after investigations after recordings were heard by the investigative team and a report was compiled which was then presented to him.

It was then when he formed his decision, said Cutajar.
Amy Borg
13:03 "So Theuma was granted with a presidential pardon in two hours?" asked Lawyer Mercieca.

Magistrate Montebello said that it is not what the witness is saying.
Amy Borg
13:02 Cutajar said that the meeting with Theuma on the 15th lasted for around 2 hours.
Amy Borg
13:00 He also said that the recordings were never handed to him.
Amy Borg
12:59 Apart from the AG, the two inspectors- Arnaud and Zahra, Cutajar said that there were times where Inspector Ian Abdilla was also present.
Amy Borg
12:58 Mercieca asked Cutajar to read part of the Presidential Pardon document.
Amy Borg
12:55 Cutajar doesn't seem to understand the questions and there is a possibility that the questions by the defence team, the way are being posed, are confusing the witness.
Amy Borg
12:53 Lawrence Cutajar said that he was not involved in the report on the Presidential Pardon to Theuma.
Amy Borg
12:49 Cutajar confirmed that during the meetings at OPM on the course of the investigations, former PM Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri used to be present.
Amy Borg
12:47 Magistrate Montebello warned Cutajar to listen to the questions before he starts to answer.
Amy Borg
12:46 He continued saying that Thuema had asked the Police 2 conditions: to implicate his family and to not use certain details given off the record against him.
Amy Borg
12:45 Lawrence Cutajar said that Theuma was not trusting the police.
Amy Borg
12:44 The court ordered Cutajar's lawyer to stop passing on comments and advice to his client.
Amy Borg
12:41 Prior to the 15th of Nov 2019, there were meetings with the OPM on presidential pardons for other cases, said Cutajar however, the discussions on Theuma's presidential pardon took place (not with the OPM) after they were presented with the recordings.
Amy Borg
12:39 There were various meetings said Cutajar.

He was unable to confirm how many meetings were held on the presidential pardon.
Amy Borg
12:37 Asked with whom did he consult to grant Theuma with a Presidential Pardon, Cutajar said that he spoke to the team concerned – He mentioned the Attorney General, the AG.
Amy Borg
12:37 Mercieca said that the question leads to other questions.
Amy Borg
12:36 "What question is this?" asked Magistrate Montebello.
Amy Borg
12:36 Mercieca asks Cutajar if he follows the news.
Amy Borg
12:35 Cutajar said that the court had ordered him not to speak on the case to Arnaud and to Theuma.
Amy Borg
12:33 Lawrence Cutajar said that the day after Theuma was arrested he spoke to him.
Amy Borg
12:31 He is not sure when Theuma was arrested by said he thinks it was the 14th of November last year.
Amy Borg
12:30 Magistrate Montebello asks the defence team to proceed with the questions.
Amy Borg
12:28 Cutajar's lawyer asks for his client's testimony to be given behind closed doors.
Amy Borg
12:26 Lawyer Mercieca is asking questions to Lawrence Cutajar on the Presidential Pardon granted to Melvin Theuma.
Amy Borg
12:25 He takes the witness stand.
Amy Borg
12:24 Cutajar entered the courtroom now.
Amy Borg
12:24 The court ordered for the recordings to be played in all their entirety.
Amy Borg
12:22 The court is waiting for Cutajar to enter the courtroom.
Amy Borg
12:21 Former Police Chief Lawrence Cutajar is asked to take the witness stand.
Amy Borg
12:19 Magistrate Montebello said that it is important that the witness is not cross-examined with recordings the court has not heard yet.
Amy Borg
12:18 The defence team suggested that they can ask questions and recordings can he heard after.
Amy Borg
12:17 The court approves for the recordings to be played before Lawrence Cutajar's testimony.
Amy Borg
12:10 The defence team said that they have no objection for all the recordings to be heard today.

Magistrate Montebello ordered that today recordings relevant to Lawrence Cutajar's testimony can be heard.
Amy Borg
12:10 She also asked how many recordings are to be heard today.
Amy Borg
12:07 Magistrate Montebello asked the defence team if they wish to continue cross-examining Inspector Arnaud.
Amy Borg
12:04 Arnaud said that the defence's request does not make sense as if the data will not be provided now it does not mean that Fenech will not be granted a fair trial.
Amy Borg
12:03 Mercieca continued to say that the data extracted from the phone could help the defence team.
Amy Borg
12:02 Lawyer Mercieca questioned why is Arnaud objecting their request.
Amy Borg
11:57 The prosecution and Parte Civile argued that if the legal team is provided with the mentioned data it could prejudice other investigations which are still underway.
Amy Borg
11:52 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi is too objecting to this request.
Amy Borg
11:52 The prosecution is objecting.
Amy Borg
11:49 The defence team said that in the same way they were provided with a copy of the recordings they expect to be provided with the data extracted from their client's phone.
Amy Borg
11:48 The defence team made a request to be provided with a copy of the data extracted from Yorgen Fenech's mobile phone.
Amy Borg
11:47 Inspector Keith Arnaud's testimony ends here.
Amy Borg
11:46 Asked by Mercieca who is investigating the data, Magistrate Montebello instructed Arnaud to not answer the question.
Amy Borg
11:45 Asked when he intends to provide the legal team with the data, Arnaud said that this depends on the court orders.
Amy Borg
11:43 "It is a matter of time when the data can be provided" – said Aruand who also explained that it depends what information is requested which can be presented.
Amy Borg
11:43 Arnaud also confirmed the Police did not provide Fenech's legal team and Fenech himself with the data extracted.
Amy Borg
11:41 Lawyer Mercieca asked if Arnaud is part of the Magisterial inquiry.

Magistrate Montebello looks annoyed with Mercieca's question.

Arnuad replied: Of course not.
Amy Borg
11:40 Magistrate Montebello informed Lawyer Mercieca that he is repeating the same questions.
Amy Borg
11:39 Around 12 people form part of the task force and only two people are looking into Fenech's phone.
Amy Borg
11:36 Arnaud confirmed the Police has on a hard-drive the information extracted by Europol from Fenech's phone.
Amy Borg
11:35 Arnaud said he does not have the information as yesterday evening while working on it he received a call – on what happened at Theuma's residence.
Amy Borg
11:34 Mercieca asked Arnaud how many individuals form part of the task force investigating.
Amy Borg
11:32 The Police inspector explained that Europol are extracting data from Fenech's phone.
Amy Borg
11:31 Arnaud said that he does not have contact with the Europol court experts.
Amy Borg
11:29 Arnaud explained that the mobile phone was photographed and is in possession of Europol.
Amy Borg
11:27 Arnaud said that the phone was taken by Europol for further investigations at the time Fenech was arrested.
Amy Borg
11:27 Lawyer Mercieca asked Arnaud where is Fenech's phone.
Amy Borg
11:25 He is to be cross-examined by Fenech's defence team.
Amy Borg
11:25 Inspector Keith Arnaud takes the witness stand.
Amy Borg
11:23 The court orders Mr Cardona to provide the court with a certain file of the voice recordings.
Amy Borg
11:22 Magistrate Montebello re-enters the courtroom.
Amy Borg
11:22 We are back in session.
Amy Borg
11:16 Lawyers had asked Theuma to confirm if il-Gojja (Edwin/Edgar Brincat) paid €30,000 to the police commissioner to help get a pardon for the middleman.
Amy Borg
11:14 During the last court sitting, Theuma denied that former Police chief Lawrence Cutajar received €30,000 to provide Theuma with a Presidential Pardon.
Amy Borg
11:11 We are still waiting for Magistrate Montebello to re-enter the courtroom.
Amy Borg
10:57 Theuma’s injuries, said Gafa, were consistent with self-inflicted wounds.

There were no signs of a struggle in Thuema’s Swieqi apartment, no indication of any defensive wounds, and no one in or around the apartment block – including the officers providing Theuma with 24-hour protection – heard any commotion.
Amy Borg
10:55 In the meantime during a press conference earlier this morning, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa confirmed that Theuma's injuries (Happened on Tuesday night) were self-inflicted.
Amy Borg
10:53 Former Police Chief Lawrence Cutajar is expected to testify today.
Amy Borg
10:50 Magistrate Montebello suspended the courtroom for a few minutes until the court figures out if the recordings can be played today.
Amy Borg
10:49 Inspector Arnaud has entered the courtroom.
Amy Borg
10:48 Lawyer Mercieca has requested the court for the recordings to be played today.
Amy Borg
10:46 Yorgen Fenech can be seen exchanging laughs with some of his family members.
Amy Borg
10:45 Magistrate Montebello expressed her annoyance and warned the defence team to control their language.
Amy Borg
10:44 Lawyers representing the Attorney General said that such a statement is unacceptable.
Amy Borg
10:44 The defence team suggested if the Attorney General gave instructions to go slow on this issue too.
Amy Borg
10:43 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi suggested that all recordings and not part of them should be heard in court today.
Amy Borg
10:42 Lawyer Mercieca says that in the recordings reference is made to former Police Chief Lawrence Cutajar and therefore it is important that the recordings are heard today.
Amy Borg
10:40 The defence team wants the recordings to be played in court.
Amy Borg
10:36 Following Cardona's reply the defence team said it will not continue to cross-examine him.
Amy Borg
10:34 Cardona said it was Arnaud who asked him if he could view the files to make sure the right files have been copied.
Amy Borg
10:33 Fenech's defence team asked Cardona how may times he communicated with Inspector Arnaud.
Amy Borg
10:31 Cardona continued to explain that the court had ordered him to copy certain files and not all of them.
Amy Borg
10:31 He confirmed he did not have any communication with Europol.
Amy Borg
10:30 He said he did not access them. He only copied the files.
Amy Borg
10:29 Lawyer Camilleri from the defence team asked Cardona if he accessed the files while he was copying them.
Amy Borg
10:28 Lawyer Mercieca has asked the witness if there are any text files in the hard drive and if they can be edited.

He replied yes.
Amy Borg
10:27 Cardona is providing the court with technical details on how to access certain files.
Amy Borg
10:26 Lawyer Mercieca is cross-examining the witness.
Amy Borg
10:25 Magistrate Montebello said the question is unacceptable.
Amy Borg
10:23 Inspector Zahra asked the witness to declare his position if he is to be accused of deleting any files from this hard drive.
Amy Borg
10:22 He said that certain files were to be accessed differently from certain recordings that have already been played in court.
Amy Borg
10:19 Magistrate Montebello asked Mr Cardona to explain which files can be accessed normally and those which need a particular software.
Amy Borg
10:18 Mr Cardona has explained the process on how one can access the files on the hard drive.

He said that with one software it is not possible to open all files.
Amy Borg
10:17 He said that certain media outlets reported there were missing files but this is not true.
Amy Borg
10:15 He was asked to make a copy of certain folders in the hard drive.
Amy Borg
10:15 The data was provided in a hard drive.
Amy Borg
10:13 Mr Cardona takes the witness stand – He was appointed by the court to make a copy of the data presented in court.
Amy Borg
10:11 Information on other criminal cases will not be disclosed.
Amy Borg
10:11 Zahra has presented to the court Melvin Theuma's presidential pardon.
Amy Borg
10:10 Inspector Kurt Zahra takes the witness stand.
Amy Borg
10:06 Theuma's legal representative Kathleen Grima addressed the court since the name of her client was mentioned by the defence team.

The court told lawyer Grima that she has no right at this stage to speak on behalf of her client as Theuma 's testimony will be treated as any other testimony. His testimony has no privileges just because he has a presidential pardon.
Amy Borg
09:59 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi said that it is a lie when someone says that certain files were lost or hidden.

Azzopardi said that Fenech's defence team had access to these files and had the opportunity to ask questions on the mentioned files.
Amy Borg
09:56 The defence team also alleged that these recordings are kept hidden by the police.

Inspector Kurt Zahra said this is not true.
Amy Borg
09:54 The defence team noted how today Theuma had to testify on recordings that "were lost" or "could not be found" by the Police.
Amy Borg
09:52 The prosecution today led by Inspector Kurt Zahra informed the court that Melvin Theuma has been hospitalized and therefore cannot testify today.

Inspector Zahra said that Theuma is in critical condition.
Amy Borg
09:49 Fenech's defence team is requesting the court for Theuma's mobile phone to be presented to the court and has called for an investigation into yesterday evening's happening.

On Tuesday evening Melvin Theuma was hospitalised after being found injured in his Swieqi home.

The police reported that he sustained stab wounds which appeared to be self-inflicted.
Amy Borg
09:49 Magistrate Montebello has just entered the courtroom.
John Paul Cordina
09:48 Melvin Theuma's pardon is to be exhibited in court today.
Amy Borg
09:47 The sitting was expected to start at 9:30 am.
John Paul Cordina
09:45 Lawyers Jason Azzopardi, Therese Comodini Cachia, and Peter Caruana Galizia are appearing for the family.

Lawyers Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca are appearing for Fenech.
Amy Borg
09:44 Yorgen Fenech is present together with his legal team.
John Paul Cordina
09:44 Good morning. We are live from courtroom 19.
John Paul Cordina