Yorgen Fenech’s request for bail turned down

'Cardona had ignored their request for help' - Melvin Theuma

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
14:37 The court has adjourned. The next sitting is on 27 March at noon and then 2 April at 11am.
Monique Agius
14:35 The court orders that Keith Schembri, Kenneth Camilleri and Johann Cremona are called to testify after we finish listening to Theuma's secret recordings and he faces cross-examination.
Monique Agius
14:33 The court notes that fearing public disorder is still real.

The request for bail was turned down.
Monique Agius
14:30 The court said that it had given weight to the fact that the investigations are still very active when it refused the last bail request.

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.
Monique Agius
14:29 The court is reading out the decree, having considered that this was the second request for bail by the accused. He is right to say that bail is the rule, the magistrate says.
Monique Agius
14:28 We're back in session.
Monique Agius
14:01 The court suspends the sitting for a few minutes pending the decree on the bail request.
Monique Agius
14:00 The AG had argued that there was a public order element to his detention.

'What are they going to do? Riots?' Dr Camillieri asked.
Monique Agius
13:59 "Presumption of innocence is the rule," Dr Camilleri points out. She underlines that Fenech was given police bail a number of times.
Monique Agius
13:56 Dr Camilleri points out that there was an absolute control over the evidence. She adds that that the recordings are already preserved.
Monique Agius
13:54 Dr Caruana Curran points out that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff had to resign because of this case, however, they were still roaming free around the streets. He adds that 'it is not fair on his client'.
Monique Agius
13:54 'From what it looks like, this case is about Melvin Theuma telling truth when the tapes themselves are showing him to be lying,' Dr Caruana Curran said.
Monique Agius
13:52 Submissions on the bail request start. Dr Caruana Curran says that Fenech had a clean police conduct. He highlights that before his arraignment, Fenech had complied with all the instructions while on police bail.
Monique Agius
13:50 The Attorney General has filed a reply on the bail request. The prosecution said that it was in full agreement with the reply filed by the AG.
Monique Agius
13:45 Dr Caruana Curran asks for a copy of Theuma's recordings for Fenech to able to listen to the recordings in jail.

The court authorised Dr Caruana Curran and Dr Camilleri to pass one or more DVDs containing the recordings to Fenech in jail.
Monique Agius
13:40 These statements were released by Yorgen Fenech when he was interrogated by Police Inspector Kurt Zahra.

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.
Monique Agius
13:37 Magistrate Montebello turns to the statements of the accused were meant to be exhibited today. Police Inspector Arnaud says that they were requesting to file these statements another time, to make sure that certain details are not leaked to the media at this stage in the view of the ongoing investigations.
Monique Agius
13:36 Theuma left the witness stand.
Monique Agius
13:35 There is another mention of Cardona.

The recording is stopped, the parties point out that the transcripts had missing words or phrases which were audible.
Monique Agius
13:32 The recording is played out in court. Theuma is heard saying 'my brakes went out, at least I did not get hurt'.

Theuma confirms the identities of the two heard in the recording.
Monique Agius
13:28 The court was dealing with some procedural issues in the transcripts in the meantime. We're now going to listen to another recording.
Monique Agius
13:22 Azzopardi ends his questioning.
Monique Agius
13:19 Azzopardi is now asking about 'the car being left parked outside the house by her son'. He asks the witness whether Yorgen Fenech has ever told him that there were coordinated attacks on the family from Castille.

Theuma replies that Fenech had never told him as much.
Monique Agius
13:16 Azzopardi is now asking about 'Alex'.

Azzopardi: Has Yorgen Fenech ever mentioned Keith Schembri's deputy, Alex Muscat?

Theuma: As far I know, he never mentioned Alex Muscat.
Monique Agius
13:13 Azzopardi: 'qal appogg ma sab minghand hadd' who told you this?

Theuma: Mario Degiorgio had told me this.

Azzopardi: what was the kind of support they were expecting?

Theuma: it's about bail.
Monique Agius
13:11 Cardona is named in the recording, after Mario Degiorgio complained to Melvin Theuma that Cardona had ignored them with the bail request.

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.
Monique Agius
13:08 The court seeks clarification from the witness. Earlier he said that the other four referred to people who were in with the hitmen, and now he is saying that they were involved in commissioning the murder.

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.
Monique Agius
13:06 Theuma: Eq, from my mind. There were a lot of people being mentioned in shops.

He added that he believes that others had sent the Degiorgio's. 'Perhaps the Degiorgios had roped in another four with them,' he says.
Monique Agius
13:04 Azzopardi questions Theuma on Fenech question in the recordings:

"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.
Monique Agius
12:59 Azzopardi: 'Huma qdew il-kulhadd u ma sabux ghajnuna' who is 'huma'?

Theuma: Degiorgio's

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?

Theuma: No
Monique Agius
12:58 Theuma tells Azzopardi that he was worried about the FBI's testimony in the compilation of evidence against the three men charged with carrying the murder. In the recordings, Fenech told him that the FBI have nothing on them.
Monique Agius
12:54 Dr Azzopardi asks why [judge] Mizzi was mentioned. Theuma explains that Mario Degiorgio had told him that they filed a bail request before Judge Mizzi, may be someone can go and speak to him. ['Ha jitfaw il-pledge quddiem Mizzi, forsi jkellimulhom xi hadd']
Monique Agius
12:53 Theuma faces questions about why the three hitmen would win the jury.

He replies that he never asked how he was so convinced that the three men would win the jury.
Monique Agius
12:52 Azzopardi: Why were you telling Fenech not to be calm in the recording?

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.
Monique Agius
12:48 Theuma faces questions on his claims in the recordings that Mario Degiorgio told him to tell "them" that the bail request should happen in three weeks to a month's time.

Azzopardi: Were you afraid that the Degiorgio's would rat?

Theuma: I don't know about Fenech, but I was.
Monique Agius
12:46 Azzopardi asks about a change in Magistrate which was mentioned in the recording. "Anzi ahjar ha jigu issa," the recording said. Why?

Theuma replies that he did not ask him why things would have been better.
Monique Agius
12:44 Azzopardi is reading out from the transcript, about the "control of things". He asks the witness what is he referring to.

Theuma replies that he was referring to the possibility of being uncovered.
Monique Agius
12:40 Azzopardi: Do you remember seeing banners concerning laptops?

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'
Monique Agius
12:38 Dr Azzopardi will examine the witness now.

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.
Monique Agius
12:35 Theuma says that he was referring to George Degiorgio when he said that 'the other was into coke, alcohol and women', while Alfred Degiorgio loved training.
Monique Agius
12:34 In the recordings, Theuma says he was going to given an "option" to someone.

"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.
Monique Agius
12:32 'From the day she died, my life was over,' Theuma says.
Monique Agius
12:30 Theuma with a quavering voice says that he had enough, many a time he tried going to the police. 'I couldn't sleep, I was living in fear. I've had enough,' he says.

Theuma is replying to a question to where he speaks about go for a shave, because he was not taking care of himself.
Monique Agius
12:26 Police Inspector Keith Arnaud is asking about the part concerning the laptops. Theuma says he was not sure if it was said by him or Yorgen Fenech, that by bringing back the laptop would confuse public opinion.

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'
Monique Agius
12:24 "But as far as I knew, they knew me not Yorgen,” Theuma says.

Speaking about helping the suspected hitmen, Theuma says that they had helped them with money until the Monday before his arrest.
Monique Agius
12:21 Theuma said that took Mario Degiorgio's 'everyone will drown with them' was a veiled warning too him.

According to the self-confessed middleman, George Degiorgio would mostly ask for money.
Monique Agius
12:19 Arnaud: 'Mela tal-avukati mhux kbira? 75 jew?' what is the context?

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.
Monique Agius
12:17 Theuma explains that he mentioned Cardona because he was a lawyer and knew all the judges. There was a reference to ix-Xih [Joseph Muscat] and he explained that since Muscat was not a lawyer he would not know how the court works.
Monique Agius
12:07 Melvin Theuma is back on the witness stand. Arnaud refers the witness to were we left off earlier.

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.
Monique Agius
12:04 We're back in session. Magistrate Montebello just entered the courtroom and orders everyone to be silent. The transcriber listens to the excerpt which was debated earlier in court.

She confirms what she had transcribed.
Monique Agius
11:49 A short break is given
Monique Agius
11:49 Dr Marion Camilleri protests that they are getting stuck on a single word. The court replies that it is pertinent to the case at hand and overrules her objection.
Monique Agius
11:44 Back to the 'Keith' or 'kif' debate.

Theuma left the courtroom while the transcriber took the stand.
Monique Agius
11:40 Arnaud: 'il-Kohhu nahseb ma jafx bl-ohrajn' who are the 'others' being referred to?

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'
Monique Agius
11:38 Mario Degiorgio had asked Theuma about his involvement in the murder. Theuma says he had denied and was only helping those involved.

Court: So for Mario Degiorgio, you're a person who was helping his brothers?

Theuma: exactly, exactly.
Monique Agius
11:33 Theuma: 'Huma qdew lill-kulhadd u ma sabux ghajnuna' was something Mario [Degiorgio] had told me

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.
Monique Agius
11:28 Mario Degiorgio had told him that the compilation of evidence would come to an end. The hitmen had sent a message to Theuma, saying that if they are in jail, then everyone would go to jail.

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.
Monique Agius
11:24 Theuma confirmed that they were speaking about the bail.

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.
Monique Agius
11:19 Theuma said that he heard from the news, from what people were saying and he said seen some banners asking 'where is Daphne's laptop'.

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.
Monique Agius
11:17 Theuma said that this recording is from 2018 or 2019 and they were at Fenech's farmhouse in Zebbug.

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.
Monique Agius
11:16 Theuma tells Fenech "I am off" before the conversation picks up again. He gives Fenech a number and suddenly there is "€6,000…." from Theuma.
Monique Agius
11:06 Theuma in the recordings was heard saying that it was better to bring the laptops back..''il-laptops aħjar iġibuhom, mija fil-mija'.

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.
Monique Agius
11:00 Yorgen Fenech is seated between his lawyer. They're reading through the transcripts. Sometimes he can be seen laughing.

The recordings are difficult to decipher.
Monique Agius
10:50 Police Inspector Keith Arnaud wants to hear a piece of recording again. 'It's very important,' he said.

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.
Monique Agius
10:45 Theuma is referring to Mario Degiorgio, brother of Alfred (il-Fulu) and George (ic-Ciniz), the two brothers accused of executing the murder.

In another part of the recording, Theuma expressed his worry about the FBI being brought in.
Monique Agius
10:38 The conversation between Fenech and Theuma concerns the bail promise to the three hitmen. The recording is not too clear. Theuma can be heard saying 'in three weeks, a month's time, the men will be granted bail'.

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.
Monique Agius
10:31 The first recording is played in court. Melvin Theuma identifies the voices in the recordings and in the transcript.

Lawyers, police, and the magistrate have transcriptions.
Monique Agius
10:30 Melvin Theuma takes the stand. More recordings will be played in court in today. We're allowed to live blog about them.
Monique Agius
10:25 The court voiced its concern after some of the transcripts appear to have been leaked to he media. This was in breach of an order it had given in a previous sitting.

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.
Monique Agius
10:22 The court expressed its concern about some media comments about the transcripts, and the inaudible audio. She asked whether the parte civile there is any issue with the transcripts.

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.
Monique Agius
10:19 Dr Marisa Mifsud is the first to take the witness stand. Mifsud was appointed to listen to recording 003 and make any corrections to the transcript, as needed.

Mifsud presented a copy of the transcription in court.
Monique Agius
10:17 Magistrate Rachel Montebello enters the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:07 Caruana Galizia murder suspect is already in the courtroom, seated at the dock between two officials from Corradino Correctional Facility.

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.
Monique Agius
10:05 Welcome to Newsbook.com.mt live blog. We're live from Hall 11 were another sitting in the compilation of evidence is bound to start.
Monique Agius

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