New Theuma recordings require authorisation

Inspector Arnaud testifies in public inquiry into Daphne's murder

REUTERS Yara Nardi

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The proceedings against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech resumed today. 17Black owner and former Electrogas director stands accused with complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Today’s court sitting

  • 3 psychiatrists presented their testimony with reference to Melvin Theuma’s mental health. Their testimony could not be published.
  • Inspector Keith Arnaud testifies that there are more recordings than originally thought. New recordings were found on Theuma’s partner’s daughter’s laptop.
  • These recordings could not be presented as authorisation has not been granted by the inquiring Magistrate.
  • Arnaud is to ask the inquiring Magistrate for authorisation to present only the relevant data from the laptop.
  • The defense asks about phone taps, but is asked to submit a written request.
  • The defense states that it considers Theuma’s partner as a person of interest in the investigations since there is a recording of her speaking to Theuma about the murder.
  • The next court sitting will involve Keith Arnaud’s counter-examination, and testimony by a representative for the secret services.
13:30 That's all for today. Thankyou for following the live blog.
Maria Webb
13:30 The Magistrate proposes that the next court sitting be on the 28th of December at 10am.
Maria Webb
13:19 Arnaud says that the exact phone taps to be presented must be identified, with reference to which period.
Maria Webb
13:17 The Court agrees that the next session sees a secret service representative testify in Court.
Maria Webb
13:16 The Court orders the defense to submit a request in writing, also with reference to the phone taps.
Maria Webb
13:14 The defense says that Theuma's partner and other members of the family have talked about the case.

The defense states that their client wants that all information is presented. Meanwhile, it considers Theuma's partner as a person of interest in the investigations since there is a recording of her speaking to Theuma about the murder.
Maria Webb
13:05 Arnaud reiterates that he is uncomfortable sharing the names of certain persons in front of the defense, when they are still being investigated.
Maria Webb
13:05 Inspector Arnaud asks that they explain exactly which recording they're referring to, while saying that the prosecution has presented all proof
Maria Webb
13:04 The defense makes reference to the recordings where Theuma's partner's daughter is heard making references to the recordings that are relevant to the case.
Maria Webb
12:59 Magistrate Montebello is scheduling the next session for the counter examination of Arnaud, as well as for the testimony of a secret services official.
Maria Webb
12:54 The inquiring Magistrate is the one who decides what's relevant in this case. The inquiring Magistrate is also the one leading the inquiry into Melvin Theuma and his finances.
Maria Webb
12:51 Magistrate Montebello once again makes an emphasis that only data relevant to the case be presented.
Maria Webb
12:43 Arnaud suggests that he asks the relevant Magistrate to present the data only pertinent to these investigations.

Fenech tells his lawyers that he agrees.

The defense says that personal information can be omitted.
Maria Webb
12:42 The defense asks that Theuma's partner's daughter's laptop be presented. The Magistrate says that the Magistrate concerned with this matter has not given authorisation.
Maria Webb
12:34 Mercieca discusses Fenech's bail, saying that the defense is not the prosecution's slave.
Maria Webb
12:34 Mercieca states that at this point, the defense team is suspending the counter examination and asks that it be allowed to ask further questions in the next session.

The Magistrate approves the request, and says that the next session will be longer to ensure that this can happen.
Maria Webb
12:29 The defense team is in consultation. Yorgen Fenech is also consulting.
Maria Webb
12:28 The defense asked the witness to say the names of those whose conversations were recorded on their phones.

The prosecution objects. The Court orders they not be named as it may harm the investigations.
Maria Webb
12:26 Arnaud states he cannot answer these questions as they fall under the secret service's remit.
Maria Webb
12:25 Mercieca asks whether he's heard about phone intercepts with reference to Lawrence Cutajar.

Arnaud says that the investigation isn't about what he's heard, but the proof. He says that no, he hasn't.
Maria Webb
12:25 Arnaud says that the mutterings of the defense team are bothering him.
Maria Webb
12:24 The Magistrate orders that names aren't published.
Maria Webb
12:23 Mercieca asks whether there was photo data included in the phone tap done on Edwin Brincat.

Arnaud answers that yes there was.

Mercieca asks whether phone taps were done on several other people, including Keith Schembri.
Maria Webb
12:23 Mercieca asks when Arnaud plans to present service provider data. Arnaud responds that he cannot yet, and that he is waiting for the Court to order him to do so.
Maria Webb
12:15 Keith Arnaud remains on the witness stand to be counter examined.
Maria Webb
12:14 Mercieca shakes his head as Montebello speaks to him. The Magistrate tells Mercieca that this is not permissible in Court.
Maria Webb
12:13 Mercieca asks to counter-examine the witness.

The Magistrate suspends the testimony.

The superintendent remains on the witness stand.
Maria Webb
12:12 Mercieca: "Could you provide service provider data?"

Arnaud says that there is already an identical request presented by the defense.

The Magistrate states that proof will not be presented haphazardly.
Maria Webb
12:12 Mercieca asks that he testify behind closed doors. Arnaud says that he will not reveal their names, even behind closed doors.

The Magistrate orders that such information not be revealed as it can be harmful to investigations.
Maria Webb
12:04 Mercieca asks Arnaud why he felt the need to ask for the secret service's help. Arnaud answers that that's what he felt was appropriate. Mercieca asks again why he felt that way.

The Magistrate intervenes: "What sort of question is that?"
Maria Webb
12:03 Mercieca asks Arnaud on the identities of the task force members that were aware of phone tappings on those close to Theuma.

Arnaud states he cannot reveal this as there are persons involved in the secret service.
Maria Webb
12:02 Arnaud explains that he asked for their help because he felt that some people needed to be followed, such as Theuma and the Degiorgio brothers.

When asked about the other persons, Arnaud says that he cannot reveal who they are as investigations are still ongoing.
Maria Webb
11:56 Arnaud states that he doesn't ask secret service officials on who they're phone tapping, as it doesn't fall under his remit.
Maria Webb
11:54 Mercieca asks about the identity of the secret service official who has certain phone taps.

The Magistrate orders the witness to remain silent, as the question is irrelevant.
Maria Webb
11:52 Mercieca says that the recordings mention allegations of a frame-up.

The Magistrate tells the defense that the Court's rules apply to everyone. She restates that the witness is being counter-examined and that this wasn't outlined prior.
Maria Webb
11:51 Mercieca says that the official prosecutor ought to know certain details of the investigation, and asks why the defense cannot ask about these.

Magistrate Montebello tells him that it depends on how he works his questions.
Maria Webb
11:47 Mercieca says that the proof shows otherwise.

The defense asks whether the prosecution will be presenting phone tabs of those mentioned in the recordings.
Maria Webb
11:47 Arnaud states that he doesn't want to testify on things that concern the security service, as he isn't a part of it.
Maria Webb
11:41 Arnaud states that reference must be made only to the recordings found in Theuma's box, and on the laptop.
Maria Webb
11:40 The Magistrate asks the defense on what matters it wants the witness to testify today.

The defense replies that it wants the witness to testify in general.

The Magistrate objects to this, saying that the Court pretends that the defense asks for what it wants.
Maria Webb
11:39 Yorgen Fenech excuses himself. The Magistrate excuses him, but states that the session will continue.
Maria Webb
11:38 The defense states that almost a year has passed, and yet not all the recordings have been presented.

The Court ordered that authorisation be obtained to present all remaining recordings.
Maria Webb
11:35 Mercieca states that investigations must speed up, as Fenech has been imprisoned since 2017.
Maria Webb
11:31 The Magistrate notes that the witness did not come prepared to provide specific details.

She states that the defense cannot pretend to want to follow procedure by objecting to things being presented outside the recourse's outline, and then asks that the witness know specific details that are also outside of the recourse's outline.
Maria Webb
11:24 Mercieca continues questioning Arnaud. The Magistrate asks him to clarify why he's still asking questions as the witness is answering in an exhaustive manner.
Maria Webb
11:22 Inspector Kurt Zahra intervenes, saying that Mercieca's questions are counter-examinatory, when it was the defense that asked Arnaud to testify.

Mercieca makes a remark with reference to Zahra.

The Magistrate orders Mercieca to stop making such remarks during every session.
Maria Webb
11:20 Long interrogations have been conducted with the persons mentioned in the recordings.

Arnaud says that works regarding the recordings are ongoing, but are nearing the finish line.
Maria Webb
11:17 The Court orders that the names of the people mentioned in the recordings not be published.

Arnaud says investigations are ongoing into these same people.
Maria Webb
11:15 Mercieca asks why Arnaud didn't give a copy of these recordings to the defense.

Arnaud states that he followed protocol. As of July and August, they had still been listening to the testimony of the people in these recordings.
Maria Webb
11:14 Mercieca asks whether there's mention of Theuma's presidential pardon in the recordings found on the laptop.

Arnaud states he isn't sure, but that there is definitely mention of it in the recordings found in Theuma's box.
Maria Webb
11:12 Lawyer Charles Mercieca makes reference to a box of recordings with a picture of Theuma with Keith Schembri.

Arnaud states that he hasn't made a copy of the recordings on the laptop.
Maria Webb
11:07 Arnaud explains that first priority was given to the box of recordings held by Theuma. They only analysed other devices afterwards.

The laptop was analysed in January 2020.
Maria Webb
11:06 Arnaud said that he has no problem with obtaining authorisation, saying that these will be presented as the other recordings have.
Maria Webb
11:02 The defense asks Arnaud to present recordings found afterwards.

Arnaud states that the recordings were in a different device, and not on Theuma's.

Arnaud thinks that the recordings were found on Theuma's partner's daughter's laptop.

He said that he cannot present such recordings as they are still part of an ongoing inquiry and he has not authorisation to do so.
Maria Webb
11:01 Superintendent Keith Arnaud steps up to the witness stand.
Maria Webb
11:01 The defense insists that today's session is regarding the recourse.

The Court orders Cardona to testify another time.
Maria Webb
10:57 The defense objects and asks that the Court follows protocol.

Azzopardi states that the position of the defense has changed since July.
Maria Webb
10:55 Cardona states that a hard drive is left to be presented.

The Court states that the witness must present that which was outlined in the defense's recourse.

Attorney Jason Azzopardi asks why is it that the work that has already been completed by the expert anyway is not to be presented, pointing out that the expert is appointed by the Court not by the defense.
Maria Webb
10:51 Cardona has been asked to testify again.

The third pen drive has been presented.
Maria Webb
10:50 She states that the Court expert, Cardona, had given her the pen drives holding the recordings. She issued a receipt as proof of her having received them.

She passed two pen drives on to the transcribers and kept one for the Court.
Maria Webb
10:46 The Court's deputy registrar, Graziella Attard, is up for testimony.
Maria Webb
10:44 Debattista is explaining how the recordings were transcribed, and how they checked each others' work.

The defense states that it has no questions at this stage.
Maria Webb
10:42 The transcribers have been asked to transcribe the voice recordings that were saved by the Court expert on pendrives.

They transcribed 8 recordings that were presented to them by the Court's deputy registrar.

They have 4 copies of the transcriptions.
Maria Webb
10:29 He stated that certain parts had to be censored. He presented a report and the DVD copies to the Court. All parties are to receive copies of these DVDs, 6 in total.
Maria Webb
10:25 Mr. Cardona, tasked with making DVD copies of Theuma's testimony, is now testifying.
Maria Webb
10:25 The Court has ordered that their testimony not be reported.
Maria Webb
10:22 The Magistrate has walked in. She asks Inspector Arnaud whether the 3 psychiatrists are present today.

Arnaud confirms that they are.
Maria Webb
10:22 The Court had asked the AG and the Prosecution whether there was any objection to this. They were given up till the 16th of December to raise their objections.
Maria Webb
10:21 The defense had also asked that a copy of Inspector Kurt Zahra's notes, as well as information provided by the service provider, be presented today.
Maria Webb
10:20 Fenech's defense team had asked that Theuma's mental health be evaluated in August. However, this was delayed following experts refusing to do so. The Court then had to appoint a board of 3 medical experts.
Maria Webb
10:19 Melvin Theuma had been taken to Mater Dei Hospital on 21st July following him being found in a pool of blood in his home. He had allegedly attempted suicide. He spent some time in critical condition.
Maria Webb
10:19 The Court decided that Theuma only be allowed to testify once a mental health evaluation has been concluded.
Maria Webb
10:17 Yorgen Fenech's defense team had asked that Theuma continue testifying in Court.
Maria Webb
10:11 Currently waiting on Magistrate Rachel Montebello to arrive.
Maria Webb
10:07 Yorgen Fenech has been escorted in. Also present are his family, along with the Caruana Galizia family.
Maria Webb
10:07 Good morning, and welcome to the live blog.
Maria Webb
10:00 Cardona is explaining how to save the DVDs and the format in which they are presented. He said that nothing has changed with regards to the video, but that the audio has been masked in areas where he was asked to do so.

The Court is suspending his testimony until the testimony of the transcribers of the recordings.
Maria Webb

Last Court sitting

  • Europol experts were handed electronic exhibits which ranged from iPhones to SIM cards which were seized last year from Fenech’s office, home and yacht;
  • Around four terabytes of data were extracted in total. Three identical hard drives were presented to the court;
  • Each expert prepared a report on the different devices they extracted the data from;
  • The team was in Malta between 20 and 23 November 2019. They were given a room and used equipment they brought with them to extract the data;
  • 2 iPhones and two SIM cards were taken to the Hague and were returned to the court on Monday;
  • The police found a WiFi air freshener camera during the searches;
  • The defence will continue with its cross-examination of the witnesses on Wednesday.