Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
The court has turned down the second request for bail by Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.
During Thursday’s sitting more secret recordings made by self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma were played out in open court.
Police Inspector Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra led the prosecution.
Lawyers Dr Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran appeared for the accused.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Peter Caruana Galizia appeared as parte civile.
Lawyer Philip Galea Farrugia appeared for the Attorney General’s Office.
Highlights from Thursday’s sitting:
- The court turned down a second bail request by Yorgen Fenech
- During the recording Theuma was heard saying to Fenech that he is very close to ‘him’. Him being former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
- Mario Degiorgio had told Melvin Theuma that Former Minister Chris Cardona had refused to help the Degiorgio’s with bail
- In the conversation on Caruana Galizia’s laptops, an ‘Alex’ was mentioned, however, Theuma insisted that he did not know to whom Fenech was referring to
- Theuma insisted that he never asked about how Cardona was involved in the case
- Theuma in the recordings was heard saying that he believes that there were four other people involved in the murder. When he was asked to elaborate, he could not
- The court orders that Johann Cremona, Keith Schembri and Kenneth Camilleri are produced as witness after all the recordings are played out in court and Theuma is cross-examined by the defence counsel
The request for bail was turned down.
This is still the case and it emerges that there are possibly greater risk to the investigation. The court explains that there were still individuals yet to testify.
'There are possibly greater risks of tampering of evidence,' Magistrate Montebello says.
'What are they going to do? Riots?' Dr Camillieri asked.
The court authorised Dr Caruana Curran and Dr Camilleri to pass one or more DVDs containing the recordings to Fenech in jail.
Arnaud explains that the defence lawyers were given a copy of these statements. But they wish to present them at a later stage.
The court upholds the request for the statements to be exhibited in the next sitting but makes it clear that they should be presented in court.
"All measures" to safeguard the investigations would be made by the court.
The recording is stopped, the parties point out that the transcripts had missing words or phrases which were audible.
Theuma confirms the identities of the two heard in the recording.
Theuma replies that Fenech had never told him as much.
Azzopardi: Has Yorgen Fenech ever mentioned Keith Schembri's deputy, Alex Muscat?
Theuma: As far I know, he never mentioned Alex Muscat.
Theuma: Mario Degiorgio had told me this.
Azzopardi: what was the kind of support they were expecting?
Theuma: it's about bail.
Azzopardi asks the witness how did he understand that Cardona was the former Economy Minister Chris Cardona. Theuma replies that he never met or spoken to Cardona but confirmed Mario Degiorgio had referred to the minister.
Azzopardi points out that there were more lawyers who were ministers, such as Edward Zammit Lewis and Owen Bonnici.
Theuma reiterates that he never asked how Cardona was involved.
Theuma says it was because there was a lot in the news, whether that was fuel smuggling, Cardona, and others.
Theuma, frustrated, says that it was from what he had heard from the news. He then adds, 'maybe more people had approached them'.
The magistrate is getting tired of his statements, it runs contrary to the recording. She seems doubtful of Theuma's explanation.
Theuma now says Cardona is not one of the four, even though he just said he heard his name on the news.
The magistrate takes note.
He added that he believes that others had sent the Degiorgio's. 'Perhaps the Degiorgios had roped in another four with them,' he says.
"Does Vince Muscat know about the others?"
Theuma also said there were four others involved in the assassination in the recordings.
Theuma reiterates that he does not know who the others were or why he mentioned four others.
"It just came out like that," Theuma says.
"The number just fell out so?," the magistrate asks, doubting Theuma's statements.
Azzopardi: and who is 'kulhadd'?
Theuma: That is what Mario Degiorgio had told me. I never asked him.
Azzopardi: So until now, Mario Degiorgio did not know about you're involvement. So you did not who Mario Degiorgio was referring to when he said 'everybody'?
Theuma: No, I swear I didn't ask him. But if he did his additions and subtractions, he would have realised. 100% they did not know of Fenech.
Magistrate: So, why does Mario say "all" then? Didn't you ask him?
He replies that he never asked how he was so convinced that the three men would win the jury.
Theuma: Because he was doing nothing and we need to solve the situation.
Azzopardi: But he gave all that money.
Theuma: Money is nothing when you are in jail.
Azzopardi: Were you afraid that the Degiorgio's would rat?
Theuma: I don't know about Fenech, but I was.
Theuma replies that he did not ask him why things would have been better.
Theuma replies that he was referring to the possibility of being uncovered.
Theuma: Yes, there was one at the St Venera tunnels
Azzopardi: Yes. That was on 17 April 2018. Do you remember what Fulu had done then?
Theuma: Yes, he had filed a judicial protest to have the laptops brought from Germany
Azzopardi: Yes and this was on 18 April 2018. Do you recall when OPM officials were writing about the laptop? Two days before, Glen Bedingfield published a blog post entitled: "Where is the Daphne laptop"
Theuma: Even though I don't know English, there was 'Where is Daphne laptop'
Dr Azzopardi asks about the time around which the recording took place.
A timeline of the man's statement is being established.
Theuma said that he could not say but it was around the time when they were saying something about the 'laptops'.
'If it was mentioned in the evening news, I was next to Yorgen the next day,' Theuma said.
"I was ready to tell Mario that I'll give you money but if you want to go rat on me, go ahead. I didn't care anymore. I never got the courage to do it. I just lowered my head," Theuma says.
Theuma is replying to a question to where he speaks about go for a shave, because he was not taking care of himself.
During the conversation on the laptop, 'Alex' is mentioned. Fenech was heard saying 'I'm going to go and speak to Alex about it'.
Transcripts are wrong, Theuma told the court. He added 'I don't know anyone who is involved in the case named Alex'
Speaking about helping the suspected hitmen, Theuma says that they had helped them with money until the Monday before his arrest.
According to the self-confessed middleman, George Degiorgio would mostly ask for money.
Theuma: I'm referring to Dr William Cuschieri who is appearing for the Degiorgio's. He charged them €75,000 in legal expenses. Mario had given me three receipts.
Fenech was funding the Degiorgio's legal expenses. Dr Cuschieri remains their lawyer.
Theuma explains that il-Kohhu was rumored to spill the beans. Arnaud asked what he meant when he said that 'there were others involved'. Theuma was heard saying 'in my opinion, there were four others involved' ['jien ghalija hemm 4 ohra'] in the recording.
Who are the other four, the court asks the witness. Theuma said that while no one told him who was involved in the murder. For him, he said, that there were another four involved, that worked together with the Degiorgio's.
Theuma was heard mentioning Cardona in the recording.
Why did you mention Cardona? the court asks.
Theuma replied that it was from what he had heard from television. He says that he has never spoken to Cardona.
'Cardona ignored them,' Mario had told me this. He explains that Mario Degiorgio had sent some message to Cardona, and he had ignored them.
She confirms what she had transcribed.
Theuma left the courtroom while the transcriber took the stand.
Theuma: I don't know
Court: So when he told you that he does not know about the others, what did you reply? You didn't ask who he was referring to?
Theuma: I had replied 'nahseb hemm erba' ohra'
Court: So for Mario Degiorgio, you're a person who was helping his brothers?
Theuma: exactly, exactly.
Court: qdew lill-kulhadd, lil min?
Theuma repeated the sentence.
Court: Did you ask who he was referring to?
Theuma: I didn't ask him
Court: So you also spoke like this? Without mentioning names?
Theuma: No, we never mentioned names
Theuma tells the court, he does not know what Mario knows and to whom 'kulhadd' [everybody] refers to.
Theuma said that he was worried that once the three hitmen were formally indicted and the trial starts, they would rat on him.
Theuma continues to say that Mario Degiorgio put pressure on him. He added that he thought that once they would receive bail, they would escape immediately.
Arnaud asks the witness how he knew about the court application and if he had visited the Degiorgio's in prison.
Melvin Theuma says that he knew through Mario Degiorgio and had sent his message with them.
Arnaud: 'int bicca wahda mal-iehor ukoll', who are you referring to?
Theuma: To the prime minister, Joseph Muscat
Court: So you expected that Yorgen Fenech solves the situation through the prime minister?
Theuma: In his position Fenech knows a lot of people. But Fenech had said it was a bad idea to speak to the Prime Minister.
He said that he was worried that if the laptops are brought to Malta, then they will get to know what she had on Fenech and as a consequence Fenech would be interrogated.
Fenech can be seen shaking his head.
"Fenech said it would be better in Malta, because they would be able to influence it," Theuma says. He adds that this would increase the possible suspects behind her assassination, since she wrote about money people.
The witness explains that the recordings were made when Vince Muscat (il-Kohhu) started speaking to he police. Further, this particular conversation we've just heard took place after Kenneth and Johann Cremona visited Theuma and a bail promise was made.
Then Fenech can be heard replying amid foul language, that on the laptops they would find other people who would have a reason to kill her.
Theuma was also heard saying, 'il-karozza ghalfejn hallija barra' referring to why the car was parked outside the house.
The recordings are difficult to decipher.
Arnaud remarks that at a point the name 'Keith' or the word 'kif' is heard.
Azzopardi explained that it was important to clarify. 'It changes the context of the question completely,' he said.
Azzopardi continues saying that before the witness testifies, the transcriber testifies as to what she heard.
In another part of the recording, Theuma expressed his worry about the FBI being brought in.
The conversation continues about the bail promise to the three men. Theuma tells Fenech that the Degiorgio's brother was pressuring him. ['Ħuħ xeba jissikkani!']
'Pledge' and 'Judge Mizzi' are heard a number of times.
Lawyers, police, and the magistrate have transcriptions.
The court referred to a decree on 30 January when the court had instructed on what happens with the transcripts.
The court reaffirmed its order issued on 30 January, and made it clear that this ban covered the recordings and the transcription, and any publishing of this information will be considered as contempt of court.
The court made it clear that journalists can report what is being played out in court but cannot have a copy of the transcripts or the actual recordings.
Dr Azzopardi denied having any issue, saying that he did not give those comments to the media.
The defence counsel, the prosecution and the parte civile clarified that they had no issue with the transcribers appointed by the court.
Mifsud presented a copy of the transcription in court.
Lawyers Dr Marion Camilleri and Dr Gianluca Caruana Curran appearing for the accused are also in the courtroom.
Lawyers Dr Jason Azzopardi and Dr Peter Caruana Galizia are also here.
Highlights from the last sitting:
- Cardona’s number was the only one found save on a burner phone retrieved during the police raid which led to the arrest of the three hitmen
- Former Minister Chris Cardona, Minister Owen Bonnici, former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (ix-Xiħ), then Police Officer Silvio Valletta and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia were mentioned in the recording
- The Court gave Melvin Theuma a stern warning while testifying reminding him that the pardon was on condition that he tells the whole truth
- More mistakes were found in the transcript
- Keith Schembri knew about Fenech’s involvement back to the time when suspected hitman Vince Muscat started confessing to the police in 2018
- From the recordings it transpired that Theuma thought that Vince Muscat spilling the beans was a set up