Arnaud testifies about details on Fenech’s interrogation behind closed doors

Keith-Arnaud-2
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The gathering of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech continues on Thursday morning.

Fenech stands accused of complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

During the last sitting, the Court rejected the constitutional reference requested by the defence team, after it ruled that the request was “frivolous and vexatious”.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello found no merit to arguments presented by the accused’s legal team as part of their request for the constitutional reference, at the end of a three-hour sitting in the compilation of evidence against the murder suspect.

14:32 Thank you for following this live blog.
Monique Agius
14:32 The case continues on Monday at 1pm.
Monique Agius
14:31 The court will decide on the request from chambers.
Monique Agius
14:20 Dr Camilleri appearing for Fenech says that Fenech was not accompanied by the police while on bail.
Monique Agius
14:19 Deputy AG Philip Galea Farrugia argued that while Fenech complied with the police bail conditions, he was being monitored by the police all the time. He says that investigations are still underway.
Monique Agius
14:17 The press is allowed into the courtroom where the court is hearing a bail request.
Monique Agius
10:57 The press is ordered out of the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:56 The court makes it clear that revealing of information which is heard behind closed doors and the relevant acts is a criminal offence.
Monique Agius
10:53 The Court is of the understanding, that since the information was given in a confidential manner by the accused in a bid to secure presidential pardon and due to pending constitutional proceedings, at this stage testifying in open court might harm Fenech's rights.

“The court is informed that there are proceedings filed by the accused about a breach of a right to a fair hearing because of the decision of this court to order the hearing of witnesses about what the accused confidentially said to the police in relation to a request for a pardon. The court is of the opinion that because the information was given confidentially for the purpose of obtaining a pardon as well as because there are pending constitutional cases on the admissibility of the evidence, at this stage the hearing of the witness in open court could damage the interests of justice,” she decrees.
Monique Agius
10:51 Magistrate Montebello says that it is not in the competence of the court to determine whether irremediable damage will be done to the accused, but the court has to ensure that his rights are not violated.
Monique Agius
10:50 Dr Mercieca starts to speak before Magistrate Montebello intervenes "il-maskri, il-maskri, il-maskri… il-qorti ma ghandhiex ghalfejn toqghod tirrepetti", with Mercieca apologizing for having removed it.
Monique Agius
10:49 Dr Camilleri insists that she asked the court to consider their request. She highlights that members of the public reading the newspapers today are the jurors of tomorrow, when eventually Fenech would stand trial.
Monique Agius
10:48 Dr Comodini Cachia underlines that proceedings should take place in public except for where the law provides for it.
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10:46 Citing case law, from similar proceedings and actions instituted by the suspected hitmen, the Degiorgio brothers, Dr Comodini Cachia highlights that the Magistrates' Court would be ordered by a superior court to act in a way or another.

“The complaint is that the decree of this court breached his fundamental rights. An interim measure was requested. It is precisely because it didn't feel this was the case that the interim measure was rejected. Asking for a different form of interim measure is playing games with the decree. In the Alfred Degiorgio case last December, the constitutional court said that unless notified with a decree ordering it to act in a certain way, the court of magistrates was duty bound to continue with the hearing.”
Monique Agius
10:43 Dr Comodini Cachia refers to the decree, she points out the request was for an interim measure was because the defence argued that Arnaud testifying in the case would constitute a breach of Fenech's human rights, the Court decreed that it would not breach his rights.
Monique Agius
10:42 Dr Camilleri says that their request is based on safeguarding the fundamental human rights of the accused.

"I don't think that what Fenech told the police in his informal meetings should go reported in the media," Dr Camilleri says.
Monique Agius
10:41 Dr Mercieca points out that when there were the recordings to be heard, the prosecution had objected to the recordings being played in open court.
Monique Agius
10:39 Dr Galea Farrugia says that the court already authorized Arnaud can take the stand, adding that the court will guide accordingly.
Monique Agius
10:38 Dr Galea Farrugia remarks that Arnaud can testify today and the request for the interim measure was turned down.

Dr Camilleri insists that the defence wants the witness does not testify on the informal meetings in open court.
Monique Agius
10:37 The decree is the one handed down this morning.
Monique Agius
10:37 Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia says that the decree said that the court could order a ban on publication and not that the proceedings be held behind closed doors.
Monique Agius
10:32 Dr Camilleri says that separate constitutional proceedings had decreed that the court should consider having the witness testify behind closed doors.
Monique Agius
10:32 Magistrate Montebello says that if the accused feels his rights are being breached a request can be made to testify behind closed doors.
Monique Agius
10:31 Dr Marion Camilleri refers to the decree handed down earlier this morning by Madam Justice Felice.
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10:29 Dr Galea Farrugia starts questioning. The Magistrate says that the witness can take off the visor.
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10:29 Superintendent Arnaud takes the stand.
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10:28 Dr Galea Farrugia informs the court that Superintendent Arnaud will be testifying.
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10:27 Magistrate Montebello informs the defence that there is an objection to a request for bail.
Monique Agius
10:27 We're in session.
Monique Agius
10:25 Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech is escorted to the dock by CCF officials.
Monique Agius
10:24 The deputy registrar informs those present in the courtroom that the Magistrate wants everyone with a mask on. She underlines even if the person is not speaking, they need to keep the mask on.
Monique Agius
09:57 Police Superintendent Keith Arnaud, parte civile lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia, are in the courtroom. As well as defence lawyers Dr Marion Camilleri, Dr Charles Mercieca and Dr Gianluca Caruana Curran.
Monique Agius
09:56 Magistrate Montebello is currently hearing another case.
Monique Agius
09:51 We are live from Hall 22.
Monique Agius
09:50 Good morning and welcome to Newsbook.com.mt's live blog.
Monique Agius

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding over the case.

Police Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Police Inspector Kurt Zahra are leading the prosecution.

Lawyer Philip Galea Farrugia is appearing on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing as parte civile.

Lawyers Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca are appearing for the accused.

Court rejects request for an interim measure

Earlier on Thursday Madam Justice Anna presiding over the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional Jurisdiction turned down a request by Fenech for an interim measure.

Fenech had requested that the police do not testify on information which the accused had given them during their meetings until it is decided whether he would be given presidential pardon as an interim measure.

In its decision, the court ruled that the request for an interim measure was not justified. The court said that it could not consider a decree handed out by the Magistrates’ Court as a prima facie breach of a fundamental right. It added that the decree was handed down by a competent court. Furthermore there were no shortcomings in its form or substance.

Madam Justice Felice said that the aim of a compilation of evidence is essentially to preserve evidence. The court said that the validity of evidence can be contested at an opportune moment when a bill of indictment is issued and the accused is formally charged. Evidence can eventually been inadmissible.

Regarding Fenech’s plea regarding the interest of the media in the current proceedings, the court said that the Magistrates’ Court is empowered to ban the publication of evidence given in court if the same court feels that this might prejudice ongoing proceedings.