Theuma denies former Police Chief received €30,000 for his pardon

Melvin Theuma, who allegedly acted as a middle man in a plot to murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, is seen in a police car as he leaves the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta, December 4, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud was cross-examined on Thursday morning during the compilation of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. During the same session, the cross-examination of Melvin Theuma, the go between Fenech and the three suspected hitmen, also began by Fenech’s legal team.

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

In Brief:

  • Police Inspector Keith Arnaud testifies on Theuma’s pardon behind closed doors. Theuma gave the police information about two other unrelated offences;
  • Arnaud tells the court that as far as he was informed, the police seized around €600,000 in cash from Theuma;
  • The lead investigator also told the court that it was the first time that OPM briefings in relation to a case ever happened;
  • Theuma denies he was aware of the presidential pardon;
  • Fenech’s defence team say there is another recording which Theuma has not confessed to;
  • Lawyers ask Theuma to confirm that il-Gojja (Edwin/Edgar Brincat) paid €30,000 to the police commissioner to help get a pardon for the middleman. Theuma denies it;
  • There are discrepancies in the recordings which were given to the defence team, the prosecution and the court.

During Thursday’s sitting former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar was due to testify but due to technical difficulties the cross-examination was postponed.

Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are leading the prosecution.

Miguela Xuereb

Lawyers Philip Galea Farrugia and Nadia Attard appeared on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

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.

Miguela Xuereb

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding over the court.

17:20 The sitting continues next Wednesday 22 July at 9.30am. Dr Azzopardi points out that there is the public inquiry that day. The court can hear the case on Tuesday 21 July until 11am.

However since the session will be a long one, the next sitting will be on Wednesday 22 July at 9.30am.
Monique Agius
17:18 Magistrate Montebello remarks that this is very bad after such a long marathon session.

Dr Mercieca requests the court to give the closest possible date in the interests of justice and bearing in mind that his client is still under preventive arrest and presumed innocent.
Monique Agius
17:13 Dr Caruana Curran suggests that Theuma listens to the recordings which the defence team has.

"We don't know where they came from, we were given the same copies the court," Caruana Curran continues.

Arnaud interjects and says 'if anything we get Europol to exhibit the recordings in court.

Both prosecution and parte civile object to the request.

The court rejects this request saying that the best evidence has to be submitted. Before anything else it is to hear the technical expert to testify how he carried out his duties, Magistrate Montebello says. The court is suspending the appointment of Alvin Cardona who was tasked to optimize the recordings.
Monique Agius
17:09 As it emerged that the recording in question exists only on the copy of the hard drive which was given to the defence and the other copies are not identical, the court orders that , court expert Alvin Cardona is summoned in the next sitting to explain the discrepancies between the copies and reserves the right to give every opportune order to ensure that all the digital files are exhibited in the court.

The court orders that the parties are given a true and original equal copy.
Monique Agius
17:07 The defence declares that the only recordings it has, is a copy of the recordings exhibited in court.
Monique Agius
17:05 There are two batches of recordings – a batch of recordings from the ice-cream box and the batch of recordings found in February.

Arnaud says that the recordings which were in the ice-cream box and were exhibited by the court expert.

An investigation was triggered once the new recordings were discovered, Arnaud says.
Monique Agius
17:04 The defence say that they were not given tapes which were played during the interrogation.
Monique Agius
17:01 The court after having heard submissions, the hard drives which were exhibited by court expert Alvin Cardona, contain digital files that exist on their copy and differ from the copies of the hard drives to the prosecution.

The defence were only given the court's copy, Mercieca says.

Arnaud explains that recording '91' is not opening for his colleagues. Arnaud adds that the police did not have the folder in the copy they received earlier after the devices were seized.
Monique Agius
16:59 The defence says that file 002 is not available on the copy of the hard drive which was given to the transcriber. The prosecution also affirms that this recording is not in its possession either.
Monique Agius
16:57 Dr Mercieca says that the file's name is 00017791.
Monique Agius
16:55 The court remarks that it is "unacceptable".

Dr Mercieca says that the recording is "groundbreaking".
Monique Agius
16:52 We're back in session.

Dr Mercieca points out that there are discrepancies in the court recording.

Dr Galea Farrugia is arguing that this not acceptable.

The defence is also angry about it. There are files on the court expert's copy which the defence do not have, Mercieca says.

Arnaud says that Europol could re-extract the data.

"I don't want to overstep but I'm being very cautious about what is happening. Europol has the interests of the police at heart," Mercieca says.
Monique Agius
16:44 We're waiting for Magistrate Montebello. While we were away, they seem to have found recordings on the transcriber's hard drive which were not on the defence copies.
Monique Agius
16:19 The Magistrate retires to her chambers for a few minutes until the recording is sorted out.
Monique Agius
16:16 Lawyer Ezekiel Psaila appearing for Cutajar asks the court if it would be possible to have an indication of the time he would be required for the next sitting.

The court orders him not to communicate with the parties.

"So that you are not kept here until 8pm, we're sending you away," the Magistrate says.

Cutajar will be notified accordingly.
Monique Agius
16:15 Cutajar is summoned back in the courtroom. The court warns Cutajar not to communicate in any way with Melvin Theuma and any of the parties to the case.
Monique Agius
16:13 The court says that since it's already 4.20pm, Lawrence Cutajar will not be cross-examined today because of time constraints, the court orders that this witness be summoned for the next sitting.
Monique Agius
16:11 These recordings are to be played from a copy of the hard drive given to the transcriber.

Caruana Curran and Mercieca offer also to give it the defence's copy of the hard drive. But it is turned down.
Monique Agius
16:08 "As it appears that the digital files containing the recordings extracted by the court expert from the original hard drive exhibited in the magisterial inquiry are no longer accessible because of what appears to be a technical difficulty, the court orders that the same expert to extract all the data from the original hard drive," the Court says.
Monique Agius
16:04 The Magistrate enters the courtroom. The Magistrate says that the court will be suspended for half an hour.

Mercieca points out that the file in question cannot be found on the court's laptop.

The court says that if there are no objections, the recordings found on the hard drive given to the transcriber.

The court orders that the expert makes another data extraction of the recordings found on the original hard drive.
Monique Agius
15:33 Theuma is escorted out. The Magistrate retires to the chambers while the problem is sorted out.
Monique Agius
15:24 A recording is played. Mercieca and Fenech say it is not the recording they are referring to.

Mercieca and Arnaud approach the computer.
Monique Agius
15:21 The fact that the proceedings are public does not mean they can be recorded, says the court.
Monique Agius
15:19 The court dictates a note, that if there is a person in the courtroom recording the proceedings, it will find the person guilty of contempt and punish them at its discretion. This punishment cannot be appealed. Every person in the court are to turn off every recording device including mobile phones.
Monique Agius
15:16 Theuma is summoned back into the courtroom. We're now looking for the recording.
Monique Agius
15:14 Dr Caruana Curran says that they want to start from a recording today. He maintains that the lawyers could train Theuma before cross-examination.

Dr Grima intervenes, and Dr Caruana Curran reminds her that she has no locus standi.
Monique Agius
15:12 Dr Kathleen Grima who is assisting Theuma, says that while she has no locus standi, objects to her client being held.

Dr Caruana Curran notes that it was not normal for witness to have a lawyer assisting them.
Monique Agius
15:07 The court authorises the playing of one of the recordings in the courtroom. But she chastises the defence for springing this on her.

"It is physically impossible to listen to all the recordings today," Magistrate Montebello says.

Caruana Curran and Mercieca ask to approach the bench. The tape deals with a particular person and discussions with him. They suggest that the witness be held until the next sitting.

The court is not happy with this. She rebukes them for springing them on her.
Monique Agius
15:06 Theuma is summoned. He takes the stand. The court asks Theuma whom did he record. He says he recorded Yorgen Fenech and Johann Cremona. He is escorted out of the hall once again.
Monique Agius
15:01 Dr Marion Camilleri explains that the recordings totally contradict what the witness has said.

They want to confront him about the money to the Commissioner.

Mercieca says that Theuma was asked who had he recorded, and the witness had said that he had recorded Johann Cremona, however, he did not know where these are. 'These are the recordings,' Mercieca exclaims.

Mercieca appealed to the court to seek the truth. The tapes are about the money allegedly paid for the pardon and give the lie to his statement that he had only recorded conversations between Fenech and himself.

The recordings also concern information about the raid locations, which Theuma earlier on said that he did not about them.
Monique Agius
14:57 The court, after hearing the arguments observed that as the recordings had not been heard originally, it was not admissible to have the witness cross-examined about the specific content of the recordings which he has not yet testified about. But however if it is true that the witness made reference to the conversations contained therein, questions in cross-examination can be made about this.
Monique Agius
14:54 The extracts are around 30 seconds each. The recordings are around 20 minutes each.

The discussion now shifted whether we should listen to the extract or to the whole tape.

Galea Farrugia says that the this a compilation of evidence, and the evidence has been gathered.

The defence is adamant that they want these recordings to be heard today.
Monique Agius
14:54 Dr Camilleri says that the prosecution picked and chose its selection of recordings to play out in court.
Monique Agius
14:51 The recordings were already exhibited in the court.

Magistrate Montebello asks if there are any objections by the prosecution for the recordings to be played out in court.

The prosecution does not object to the hearing of these recordings as it was part of evidence it had exhibited. It wants it to be exhibited in a regular procedural manner, Galea Farrugia says.
Monique Agius
14:49 The cross-examination is about what was heard in the new recordings. The defence has made its own transcription of these tapes which they offered the court to use to follow.
Monique Agius
14:49 Caruana Curran says that they had been listening to the tapes for seven whole months and that the tapes in question were never played was "very worrying".
Monique Agius
14:47 Caruana Curran says that they were accused of a mise en scene and 'fraud'.

Police Inspector Zahra says that he did not say 'fraud'. Zahra had been commenting to Arnaud that it is a mise en scene.
Monique Agius
14:44 Galea-Farrugia objects saying that may be a court expert should be appointed to transcribe the recordings in question. The defence is up in arms after Galea Farrugia's suggestion that an expert is appointed.

"They are accusing of a mise en scene, a crime," Caruana Curran.

The court finds Caruana Curran and Mercieca in contempt of court and fines them €50 each.

They apologize to the court.
Monique Agius
14:43 Although Galea-Farrugia had no objection of the recordings being heard today during the cross-examination of the witness. The court maintains that since the witness has not testified on these new recordings, the witness cannot be examined on its contents.
Monique Agius
14:42 Dr Galea Farrugia argues that in cross-examination you cannot have these types heard out of context and reported by the media. The defence can summon him as their own witness, the assistant AG says.
Monique Agius
14:41 The recordings extracted from the hard drives were not played out in open court.

However Theuma has already testified on the content of these recordings, according to the defence counsel.
Monique Agius
14:38 Caruana Curran asks the court to listen to the recordings which were exhibited in court and on which Theuma has yet to testify on. The defence team explains that these are extracts from the recordings retrieved from the hard drive.

Theuma is escorted out of the courtroom.
Monique Agius
14:36 Caruana Curran: If I tell you that Edwin Brincat il-Gojja paid €30,000 to the police commissioner for your pardon?

Theuma laughs, and is subsequently reprimanded by the court.

The implication is that he bought his pardon.
Monique Agius
14:34 Caruana Curran: Of course this was not all pre-arranged for you to get a pardon.
Theuma: No.
Caruana Curran: Did someone mention a pardon in connection with the date of your arrest?
Theuma: Of course not.
Monique Agius
14:32 Theuma raising his voice insists that he did not know where the raids would take place.

'On Monday I had a meeting with Yorgen Feeling and he said that the Commissioner had to guide him. I suggested that Cutajar speaks to Schembri. He had given me the date of my arrest but I didn't take note,' Theuma says.
Monique Agius
14:30 Caruana Curran: Had you discussed the situation with your wife and relatives?
Theuma: Yes.
Caruana Curran: Had you ever spoken to her about Keith Schembri? It was all lie after all.
Theuma: I don't remember. I might have mentioned him in connection with the case.
Monique Agius
14:28 Theuma: Fenech had sent me to meet him.
Caruana Curran: Did you enter through the main door? The one used by the prime ministers?
Theuma: Yes. Fenech told me to use the main entrance.
Caruana Curran: You didn't ask them about the pardon then?
Theuma: This was before the murder. I wasn't suicidal then.
Caruana Curran: Did you speak to Cutajar?
Theuma: I only spoke to him when I signed the pardon.
Monique Agius
14:27 Asked if he planned to rat on Keith Schembri, he said he could not because Schembri never told him to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Monique Agius
14:26 Theuma says he did not ask Cutajar or Kenneth about a pardon request for him.
Monique Agius
14:25 Caruana Curran: Did you also lie to Kenneth ta' Kastilja?
Theuma: I met him twice and he called once.
Caruana Curran: You've mentioned WhatsApp and Signal. Do you know how to delete the messages.
Fenech is laughing.
Theuma: I don't know. The chat with Johann Cremona disappears after some time on Signal. Those with Fenech, no.
Monique Agius
14:23 Theuma says that he mentioned Cutajar and bluffed his way out. Asked to clarify about his latest statement, Theuma re-confirms that he bluffed about Cutajar and apologizes in advance.

"Zeffintu fin-nofs. Bhalma skuzajt ruhi fuq tal-Imhallef Mizzi," Theuma says.
Monique Agius
14:20 Caruana Curran: What happened when you told Edwin Brincat?
Theuma: He was annoyed for having gotten involved in the case.
Caruana Curran: Did you know that Edwin or Edgar Brincat il-Gojja was friends with Cutajar?
Theuma: What do you mean? Let me tell you what I know. Brincat went to see Cutajar over a parking ticket. Brincat knew about the recordings and told me that Cutajar knew about the recordings.
Monique Agius
14:18 Caruana Curran: Did they explain to you what it involved by being granted a pardon?
Theuma: Yes. The inquiring magistrate, the lawyers, etc.
Caruana Curran: Were you told to reveal everything about everyone?
Theuma: Uwejja.
Caruana Curran: When did you start recording Fenech?
Theuma: The first time I did, I tried calling Dr Jason Azzopardi.
Caruana Curran: when?
Theuma: 2018.
Monique Agius
14:17 Theuma: I was investigated over money laundering and the murder.
Caruana Curran: Which was the most important for you?
Theuma: Murder, nobody can ever take it off your conscience. You can live a hundred years, have holy communion and confess, but it will still be there.
Monique Agius
14:16 Caruana Curran also asks about his criminal past. Theuma says that he was involved in illegal betting.

Caruana Curran: Were you a usurer?
Theuma: That was when I was very young…
Monique Agius
14:15 Theuma gave information about two other crimes which are not the murder of the investigation of Caruana Galizia.
Monique Agius
14:14 Caruana Curran: Were the implications of a pardon explained to you?
Theuma: I was so confused, so depressed that a pardon. I don't know what it is or how it works.
Monique Agius
14:12 Theuma stresses that it came from him.

"I will tell you something, during my arrest there was no agreement between my lawyers and Arnaud and Arnaud had already today that he was going to arraign me. Then the government issued a statement. I was given a paper and I was asked whether I wanted to sign it and I signed it," Theuma says.
Monique Agius
14:10 Caruana Curran: Was it your idea or did someone suggest it?
Theuma: It could have been mine or the lawyer's.
Caruana Curran: But before your arrest…
Theuma: Edwin Brincat used to tell me I would go to prison and would never get out.
Caruana Curran: Who mentioned then? The police commissioner?
Theuma: No. After I got to know that Vince Muscat il-Kohhu was speaking with the police. I thought I should request it.
Monique Agius
14:07 Caruana Curran: Was there a particular reason why you asked for Arnaud?
Theuma: Because he is involved in the investigation. I always told Fenech and Cremona that once a police officer knocked on my door, I would reveal everything immediately.
Caruana Curran: When did you think about requesting pardon?
Theuma: The pardon I mentioned several times as well as 20-30 years prison with Johann Cremona and Yorgen Fenech. I still have the remorse that I became embroiled in this murder and nobody can take it away. I had also told Edwin Brincat. He told me that I would go to prison and never get out.
Monique Agius
14:06 Caruana Curran: Did you request for the presence of the Police Commissioner?
Theuma: I request the presence of the magistrate too, possibly also the commissioner of the police. But he wasn't there. I wasn't trusting anybody.
Monique Agius
14:03 Caruana Curran: When you were arrested who proposed that you should request pardon?
Theuma: I was arrested by Police Inspector Nicholas Vella. During the search, I told him please call Arnaud because tonight I would like to speak to him. After the search, I was taken to the headquarters. I told him that I want to speak about the murder investigation of Daphne Caruana Galizia. I was told I don't have a lawyer yet. We started calling lawyers, we called your mother, Gianella de Marco but she was away, we called Karol Aquilina, Jason Azzopardi, Beppe Fenech Adami, and Simon Busuttil. Then we called Matthew Brincat because I knew him from Marsa and De Marco's office.
Monique Agius
14:02 Theuma takes the stand. He will be cross-examined by Dr Caruana Curran.
Monique Agius
14:02 Dr Caruana Curran informs that Melvin Theuma is to testify next.
Monique Agius
14:01 We're back in session.
Monique Agius
13:50 We're back in the courtroom. The defence team and the accused are back in the courtroom.
Monique Agius
13:26 The court has been suspended for ten minutes. We will back for Theuma's cross-examination.
Monique Agius
13:25 Further cross-examination of the witness has been suspended.
Monique Agius
13:22 Mercieca: Would I be correct that pardon was granted on the police commissioner's advice?
Arnaud: Zahra and I prepared a report together. There is a report by the AG. I don't know about any other reports. We have given our report.
Court: Are you aware of other people advising?
Arnaud: As far as I know these two reports were filed.
Mercieca: Did you inform about others about the new tapes which were found in February 2020?
Arnaud: Whoever is part of the team knew about them.
Mercieca: Did you inform the Commissioner about them?
Arnaud: uhm… Not sure. Not sure if he had already left the police force. We found them between January – February.
Mercieca: the prime minister?
Arnaud: no.
Mercieca: the AG?
Arnaud: I think so.
Monique Agius
13:21 The court is unhappy that it is being to listen to the witnesses testify at such length following the urgent application. There are still two witnesses outside to testify.
Monique Agius
13:19 Arnaud says that he is informed about the gist of the recordings which he has not yet listened to.
Monique Agius
13:19 The new tapes were found after Theuma's comments.
Monique Agius
13:17 Mercieca: Would I be correct that the pardon was issued about the recordings found in the box?
Arnaud. No, no. There were other documents – screenshots, and other documents.

Fenech is holding his head laughing.
Monique Agius
13:16 FEnech hands Mercieca a handwritten wrote.

Arnaud says that the pardon was given after Fenech's arrest. The defence had already listened to some of the recordings.
Monique Agius
13:13 Mercieca is emphasizing on Theuma's pardon and the fact that he was not to hide anything from the authorities.

Arnaud says he recalls the pardon mentioning "di scienza propria" meaning what he himself had seen or heard.
Monique Agius
13:11 Arnaud had been part of the police team dealing with the pardon, giving a report to the police commissioner with their views, but not party to the decision.
Monique Agius
13:09 Mercieca: If it results that Theuma paid for the pardon?
Court: it's a hypothetical question
Mercieca: Do you know if any money changed hands for this pardon?
Arnaud: We had asked Theuma and he said no.
Monique Agius
13:07 Mercieca: Was Theuma's pardon discussed in the same manner as Muscat's?
Arnaud: Uhm… no. I was not present for any meeting on Theuma's pardon request.
Mercieca: Are you informed if it was discussed?
Arnaud: Not informed.
Mercieca: Am I correct to say that one of the conditions is for him to say the truth and all that he knows regarding the offences and the people involved?
Arnaud: Yes.
Mercieca: If he is caught lying, it would be revoked, right?
Arnaud: It won't be who revokes it.
Galea Farrugia: The President.
Monique Agius
13:06 The commissioner would also be present for these meetings.

"It was my first experience. I did not know what the procedure was. I never had similar request," Arnaud says.

On the pardon, Arnaud maintains if you have a suspect willing to talk, what are we supposed to do? Not talk to him?

The court is getting annoyed.
Monique Agius
13:03 Mercieca: Did you discuss Muscat's pardon with the prime minister and Schembri?
Arnaud: With the prime minister. Schembri was present.
Monique Agius
13:00 Mercieca: What did you tell them about Melvin?
Arnaud: He was not mentioned initially, but then he was. Kohhu was mentioned for sure.
Mercieca: Schembri never told you about his fraternal friendship with Fenech.
Arnaud: Schembri would be present for the PM's briefing. We never felt the need to hide anything from him. The developments were about Theuma's recording. With time we noted that the recordings were tied to Yorgen Fenech. We took into consideration what would happen if the recordings turned out to be useless or unrelated.
Mercieca: Were you concerned that the recordings could go missing?
Arnaud: In my opinion, no.
Monique Agius
12:59 Arnaud insists that the issues were different. In 2018, the meetings related to the presidential pardon request by Vince Muscat. The chief inspector insists that they were not asked to give material information from the investigation. The subsequent meetings would be about foreign cooperation. He adds that there were no developments after November 2018.
Monique Agius
12:55 Mercieca: How many times had you met Schembri about the case?
Arnaud: November once. Once a week before the arrests, then April and May 2018… I will get the dates. The meetings would be with the Prime Minister not Schembri, he would only be present.
Mercieca: You've just said that you didn't request the meeting.
Arnaud: Before it was Valletta taking care of it.
Mercieca: Is it normal to request meetings with the Prime Minister over police investigation?
Arnaud: I don't know who requested the first meeting. Valletta had told me 'Imxi mieghi'.
Mercieca: How many meetings did you have with the Prime Minister on other murder cases?
Arnaud: None.
Monique Agius
12:54 Mercieca now asks the inspector when was the first time he had spoken to Keith Schembri and then Prime Minister. It was around November 2017. Arnaud says that it was definitely before December 2017. 'Mr Valletta had asked me to accompany him,' he says.
Monique Agius
12:53 The Court is once again warning Mercieca to refrain from making superfluous comments about the inspector.
Monique Agius
12:51 The defence appears to be pressing the inspector on the precise dates for when Arnaud spoke to witnesses. The court asks why.

"A chief investigator should be certain of his information. We want to know whether he was spoken to before his deposition to the court," Mercieca remarks.

Arnaud will have to check the dates with his notes. He would always make arrangements with Theuma's lawyers.
Monique Agius
12:49 Mercieca: What did you seize during the searches on Theuma?
Arnaud: Because we had wanted to find these recordings, the plan was to gather all his electronic devices. We seized one laptop for sure, there are also four mobiles for sure and other devices but I don't know exactly.
Mercieca: How much money did you seize from Theuma?
Arnaud: I was informed that around €600,000 in cash were seized.
Monique Agius
12:45 Arnaud explains the layout of the CID building. He says that he is not sure but this could be verified from the audio-visual recordings.

Fenech shares a joke with Dr Caruana Curran, and laughs silently.
Monique Agius
12:44 The former police commissioner would be present for many of the questioning sessions. Arnaud says that he would organize the sessions with Zahra. Cutajar would have known but they did not invite him, Arnaud says.
Monique Agius
12:41 After some tension following a comment by Mercieca were he was heard saying "tigdiblix", Magistrate Montebello censures Mercieca for "tigdiblix".

Arnaud explains that since then there were more police officers involved in the investigation since 2018 as some had retired.
Monique Agius
12:39 Mercieca: Who would be present for these meetings with Melvin Theuma?
Arnaud: For statements, me and Zahra. The last statement I'm not sure, depending on who is in the office at the time.
Mercieca: Are they these the three officers mentioned before?
Arnaud: Some of them are not there anymore.
Mercieca: I've asked you in the beginning who are the officers, and now we discover that there are more.
Monique Agius
12:35 The first time he had spoken to Theuma was on 14 November – the night of his arrest. He says that he is certain.

Arnaud says that he spoke to Theuma several times, however, he does not hold a record. Mercieca asks if there were instances of off-record situations. Arnaud clarifies that there were times when an audio-visual statement was not required.

There are at least six statements taken from Melvin Theuma during a three-week span in November. Arnaud will bring the dates.

From November to date, Arnaud tells the court that he spoke to Theuma but no audio-visual statements were taken. There is one more on tape since then.

Less than ten statements were made.
Monique Agius
12:34 Mercieca: For how long did he speak to him?
Arnaud: Perhaps 30 minutes.
Mercieca: Could it be more or less?
Arnaud: More though not much more of that.
Mercieca: Alone or with his lawyers?
Arnaud: I've always spoken to him in the presence of his lawyers.
Monique Agius
12:33 Mercieca: How many times was Theuma arrested? How many times was he brought in?
Arnaud: The last time was this week. Can't recall exactly.

Arnaud fishes out his phone and replies "99.9% it was on Tuesday because on Monday I was not working".
Monique Agius
12:32 The sitting is briefly interrupted by a Skype call on the sound engineer's laptop.
Monique Agius
12:31 The court says that it was letting the defence have a wide leeway, but if it needed t oask questions about Aquilina it would have to summon him as a witness first.
Monique Agius
12:28 Questions turn to former Superintendent Raymond Aquilina. The prosecution object, saying that he had not been mentioned in the testimony by Arnaud.

The court suspends the testimony for the time being.
Monique Agius
12:27 Arnaud says that they asked many questions but il-Gojja opted for silence.

"We stopped there for the statement. He was refusing to reply," Arnaud replies.
Monique Agius
12:25 Mercieca: Did you ask il-Gojja about his lengthy friendship with Police Commissioner Cutajar?
Arnaud: We did ask him, if I recall correctly. I was not aware of it at the time. I knew they were friends but not that they went back so far.
Mercieca: Did you ask him about his friendship with Mario Tonna?
Arnaud: No.
Court: Has the investigation been closed?
Arnaud: Can't say it is. He was warned before testifying.
Mercieca: Did you ask him about his friendship with Theuma?
Arnaud: No. The interrogation was us making questions and we received no replies.
Monique Agius
12:24 Europol were not present for the raid at Schembri's residence. They had left. Arnaud explains that the option was delaying Scehmbri's arrest for them to return.
Monique Agius
12:24 Europol have two roles – as court experts and assisting the local police.
Monique Agius
12:23 The electronic devices are with Europol. Asked whether they are present in Malta, the police inspector explains that they come and leave. Europol were not in Malta during the pandemic.
Monique Agius
12:20 Arnaud says that he still has not heard the new recordings. Il-Gojja's phone was seized upon arrest. Arnaud does not want to specify how many people were listening to the tapes.

Mercieca: Have you asked him how many mobiles he has?
Arnaud: I don't recall exactly. I think he has two.

Electronic devices were seized from il-Gojja.
Monique Agius
12:17 Mercieca: When did you find the new recordings?
Arnaud: I think it was January – February 2020. Theuma had prompted us to investigate further.

Arnaud recalls that Theuma after a sitting, when Theuma had told him whether there were more recordings in December 2019. Arnaud told him that these were the recordings from the box. Theuma had told him that to check further. Arnaud went back to his team and they investigated further.

"He had told me 'M'hemmx iktar? Minghalija kien hemm iktar.' and I understood that there could be more," Arnaud tells the court.
Monique Agius
12:16 Asked again, Arnaud says it was two or three days before il-Gojja was summoned to testify. He adds that he was not sure if it was one or two statements were released by il-Gojja.
Monique Agius
12:15 Mercieca: When was the last time you sent for il-Gojja?
Arnaud: November. Around five days before he testified. Il-Gojja was brought in days before he was summoned to testify. The reason was because he initially did not want to talk. I wanted to see if he was going to talk and prepare the questions accordingly.
Monique Agius
12:13 Mercieca: Did you seize his phone?
Arnaud: No. I didn't see any reason for this.
Mercieca: And he is still being investigated?
Arnaud: No.
Mercieca: When are you planning to finish your investigation?

The court overrules for the question.
Monique Agius
12:12 The investigation on Vella is still ongoing.

The last time he brought Vella in was in December 2019.
Monique Agius
12:10 Vella was arrested and released on police bail.

Mercieca turns to Caruana Curran and says 'his investigation and he knows nothing'. [ma jaf xejn u l-investigazzjoni tieghu.]

Zahra intervenes and tells them to avoid such comments.

Magistrate Montebello says the court did not hear any comments.

Arnaud notes down that he needs to check how long was Dr Adrian Vella was arrested for, how many statements did he give, among other details.
Monique Agius
12:07 Mercieca: Did you let Kenneth Ta' Kastilja listen to the tapes?
Arnaud: No. He was mentioned but his voice is not on the tapes.
Mercieca. And Dr Adrian Vella. How many times have you brought him in?
Arnaud: If am not mistaken, we have brought him in three times: twice in November and once in December.
Mercieca: You are the lead investigator…
Arnaud: Both Zahra and myself are the lead investigators.
Mercieca: Is Zahra in a better position to reply?
Arnaud: I wasn't prepared to delve into such details.
Mercieca: How many statements did Vella give?
Arnaud: I think three.
Monique Agius
12:07 Arnaud will have to check about the length of the statements.
Monique Agius
12:04 The court rules that generic questions are pertinent and legitimate because the court does not feel that any prejudice to the prosecution is made.

Galea Farrugia clarifies that questions like "did you believe him?" are to be avoided since Arnaud will not be able to testify this in an open court.

There is no active investigation into Cremona.
Monique Agius
12:02 Dr Galea Farrugia intervenes and objects to Mercieca's line of questioning on Camilleri since an investigation is still underway and they are liable to further investigation or prosecution.
Monique Agius
12:01 Mercieca: How many times have you brought in Kenneth ta' Kastilja?
Arnaud: He was spoken to twice in November i nthe sapace of 2-3 weeks and once recently.
Mercieca: How many statements did he release?
Arnaud: I think two or three.
Monique Agius
12:00 Mercieca: Did you speak to his associates?
Arnaud: No.
Mercieca: How wide was the investigation?
Arnaud: If we knew a person had pertinent information we would have done so.
Monique Agius
11:59 Mercieca: Going back to Johann Cremona. Did you take his mobile?
Arnaud: No.
Cremona: Did he lose it too?
Arnaud: No.
Monique Agius
11:57 Mercieca asks who has a copy of these recordings which were not exhibited in court.

Arnaud says that the parte civile does not have a copy and not even the AG if he recalls correctly. The defence team does not have a copy.

The task force is analysing the tapes. The task force which is composed of some 12 individuals including officials from the ECU.
Monique Agius
11:57 The court clarifies that these recordings were found on devices seized during the search.
Monique Agius
11:56 The recordings which were found on the hard drive. Only one of these were exhibited in court.

The recordings which were in Theuma's box were exhibited in court.
Monique Agius
11:54 Mercieca: Did you let him listen to the tapes before testifying in court or after?
Arnaud: Before.
Mercieca: Did he explain the tapes?
Arnaud: We would stop and he explained and we collected them as a statement.
Monique Agius
11:53 Cremona was asked to explain the tapes where he can be heard.

Cremona listened to some nine to ten recordings.

The court has only listened to one of these tapes.
Monique Agius
11:53 Cremona was kept for a maximum of three hours. During this session they listened to the new recordings where Cremona was concerned.
Monique Agius
11:51 Asked when did he send for Cremona last, Arnaud says that it was in relation in the new recordings. 'There's a DVD'.

Cremona was never under arrest.
Monique Agius
11:51 Arnaud says that perhaps Cremona was brought in six times for sure.
Monique Agius
11:50 The court clarifies that Arnaud is to verify the exact dates.
Monique Agius
11:49 Mercieca: How many times have you sent for Johann Cremona?
Arnaud: Cremona was brought in four to five times.
Mercieca: When?
Arnaud: We brought him in, in November 2019, before he testified.
Monique Agius
11:48 Mercieca: Have you communicated with Schembri? Through third parties perhaps?
Arnaud: No. no.
Mercieca: The investigations into Schembri have been concluded, right?
Arnaud: No.
Monique Agius
11:46 Mercieca: Have you tried to do reconstruction of the mobile? Have you spoken to the system providers?
Arnaud: We've spoken to Vodafone, The engineer gave us a report.
Mercieca: When did you speak to the engineer?
Arnaud: Within days.
Monique Agius
11:45 Mercieca: Where did you carry out the searches?
Arnaud: His home.
Mercieca: What did you seize from Schembri?
Arnaud: A laptop.
Mercieca: When did you get to know that his phone went missing? Before or after the statement?
Arnaud: During the search. Before the statement.
Monique Agius
11:43 Mercieca: You said that Schembri gave three or four statements. How many statements did he give on the 26 November?
Arnaud: One for sure. I do not have these documents with me. I didn't know we were going into this much detail.
Mercieca: You took his mobile away, right?
Arnaud: I already testif… no.
Mercieca: Did you ask how many mobiles he has?
Arnaud: I don't recall exactly.
Monique Agius
11:42 Mercieca: Who questioned Schembri?
Arnaud: Kurt Zahra and I.
Mercieca: Would I be wrong to say that Europol were also present?
Arnaud: No, Europol were not present during the questioning.
Monique Agius
11:41 Mercieca: How many statements did Schembri give to the police?
Arnaud: I don't know if it was three or four.
Mercieca: On the same day?
Arnaud: He was at the Police Headquarters on 26 and 27th November. The first time he was there for almost 48 hours.
Monique Agius
11:40 Mercieca: How many times have you sent for Keith Schembri?
Arnaud: No, no. He was arrested on 26 November and then released on police bail. He was arrested twice.
Monique Agius
11:37 Arnaud explains why he assumed.

Magistrate Montebello intervenes as Arnaud and Mercieca bicker. She reminds Mercieca to keep his comments to himself.

Arnaud says that he was following after Theuma was arrested. He says that he saw the witness holding the box. He called Vella who explained that Theuma insisted to open the box in front of Police Chief and me or Police Chief alone.

'We all assumed or wished to find the recordings there.'
Monique Agius
11:36 Arnaud says that he was present for the searches and was not present for the arrest of Theuma.

Police Inspector Vella informed Arnaud about Theuma's box.

Mercieca asks if he knew what was in the box.

Arnaud: I assumed. Our case hinged on these recordings. Of course I assumed.
Monique Agius
11:34 Arnaud tells the court that when Theuma was arrested by Vella, Theuma had a box. He wanted to speak to either Cutajar alone or Cutajar and Arnaud, the chief inspector says but says that he was not present.
Monique Agius
11:33 Mercieca: Where did they arrest Melvin Theuma exactly?

Arnaud: He was not at home. Not sure if it was Hal Qormi. But I was not the one to arrest him. Police Inspector Nicholas Vella had arrested him.
Monique Agius
11:32 Arnaud says that he does not know who was investigating the former police commissioner.

Mercieca: If I had to tell you that Cutajar had informed you about the existence of the recordings?

Arnaud: No, of course not. Am 200% sure.
Monique Agius
11:31 Dr Attard says that cross-examination is on the examination.
Monique Agius
11:29 Dr Mercieca asks how many times has Cutajar met with Brincat.

Arnaud says that he had told them about that particular meeting.

Dr Mercieca asks Arnaud if he had sent for Cutajar after the court order for the police commissioner to be investigated.

Arnaud says that this was given in open court and that he was not assigned with the investigation.
Monique Agius
11:28 Dr Mercieca asks about the inquiry. Magistrate Montebello says that if we're going into details then the testimony would continue behind closed doors.

Arnaud says that he was not sure if it was recorded, but Cutajar gave a statement to the inquiring magistrate.
Monique Agius
11:24 April – June we used to meet regularly with the inquiring magistrate.

Arnaud is asked when he informed the inquiring magistrate about the meeting between Cutajar and Brincat.

He says that there were meetings intended for a particular reason. There were around eight to nine meetings.

Dr Mercieca is pressing for a date.

Arnaud leafs through his notes to check for a date.

He tells the court there were a number of meetings with the inquiring magistrate which he did not attend or for which he arrived late. But he was present for when the inquiring magistrate was informed about the meeting between Cutajar and Brincat.
Monique Agius
11:23 Dr Mercieca asks Arnaud what did he do when Cutajar confirmed that he held a meeting with Theuma's best friend.

Arnaud says there was nothing much to do.

["Ma kienx hemm x'taghmel iktar."]
Monique Agius
11:22 From the information we had at hand, there was the possibility of a meeting.

During that meeting, Cutajar had to be present and we asked him directly. He confirmed immediately.
Monique Agius
11:19 Dr Mercieca asks Arnaud what he did after he got to know that former Police Chief Lawrence Cutajar had spoken to Edwin (il-Gojja) Brincat about Theuma's tapes.

Arnaud says that there is an investigation. When he got to know that the meeting might have happened he informed the whole team.

Dr Mercieca asks about the team.

The team from the homicide squad consisted of Police Inspector Kurt Zahra, and two other police constables; and there were seven to eight officers from the Secret Services.

Another police sergeant was brought on board at the end of 2018.
Monique Agius
11:18 We're back in the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:57 The court has ordered the public out.
Monique Agius
10:53 After hearing that the Police Inspector Arnaud is not in a position to exhibit the pardon today since he does not have it here, and since the pardon was also given in relation to other offences in which Theuma may be involved and not related to these criminal proceedings, the court at this stage orders Arnaud testifies behind closed doors on the content of the pardon and reserves the right to request the document at a later stage.
Monique Agius
10:50 Dr Mercieca cites UK case law on pardons. He stresses that if there are concerns about revelations which could prejudice investigations, the hall can be emptied. He says that a pardon is always available to the other party in the UK.

Dr Galea Farrugia once more reiterates that it is not material evidence.
Monique Agius
10:46 Dr Galea Farrugia says that at no point the did he disobey court orders. He explains that the document is not a public document. He says that the case law cited by Mercieca, the witness was given presidential pardon for one case. In this case, Melvin Theuma is giving information about four to five other offences which are not related to this case and are not linked with this case. There are investigations underway, and by exhibiting this document these investigations will jeopardised.

"A pardon is not evidence. The court is only obliged to collect evidence. It is not a public document, it is a document of the President of State and who am I to exhibit it?”
Monique Agius
10:45 While Yorgen Fenech is moving around closer to the defence counsel, his legal team are arguing that the pardon is exhibited for the sake of disclosure and the principle of the equality of arms.

Dr Comodini Cachia walks in.
Monique Agius
10:44 The court asks what the point of the evidence is.
Monique Agius
10:43 Mercieca says that it is worrying that a witness decided not to bring the evidence with him. “I believe this is not only essential for the defence but is vital to check whether the witness is saying the truth,” he adds.
Monique Agius
10:41 Dr Mercieca says that in the past when someone was given a presidential pardon it was exhibited during the criminal proceedings and it was also quoted in court's sentence. He maintains that he could not understand why this is not so in this case.

"I can't understand why the prosecution did not abide by the court's orders and did not bring it to court," Mercieca says.
Monique Agius
10:38 Dr Mercieca asks Arnaud to present the presidential pardon given to Theuma.

Magistrate Montebello says that we have already been through this.

Dr Galea Farrugia says it is not here and he advised Arnaud not to bring it to court.

Arnaud says that he does not have it here. He explains that the AG advised not to exhibit the presidential pardon due to certain details.

The court has suspended the cross-examination of Arnaud.
Monique Agius
10:35 Melvin Theuma and Lawrence Cutajar are called in and told not to access live blogs. They will have a court officer with them.

Theuma says "I don't have a mobile."

They leave the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:34 Dr Mercieca tells the court, that while the journalists do a good job, there are two witnesses outside. He warns that if the witnesses read the live blog they will be aware of all the courtroom happenings before they are cross examined today.
Monique Agius
10:32 Police Inspector Keith Arnaud will be cross-examined first, he takes the witness stand.
Monique Agius
10:30 Magistrate Montebello enters the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:29 Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech just entered the courtroom where he was greeted by his lawyer Dr Mercieca. He's seated on a chair at the end of the benches. Fenech turns round and smiles at his family and friends.
Monique Agius
10:23 We're waiting for the compilation of evidence to start in courtroom 17. While all players are in the coutroom, murder suspect Yorgen Fenech has not yet arrived.
Monique Agius
10:21 Lawyer and widower Peter Caruana Galizia has entered the courtroom. Followed by lawyers Matthew Brincat and Kathleen Grima who are assisting Melvin Theuma the go between Yorgen Fenech and the three suspected hitmen; George Degiorgio (ic-Ciniz), Alfred Degiorgio (il-Fulu) and Vince Muscat (il-Kohhu).
Monique Agius
10:15 Family and friends of murder suspect are also in the coutroom.
Monique Agius
10:10 Magistrate Rachel Montebello will be presiding over the cross examination of Melvin Theuma.
Monique Agius
10:09 More chairs have been brought into the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:08 Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra have also walked into the courtroom, followed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi who is appearing for the family.
Monique Agius
10:04 A few minutes ago, a court official removed most of the plastic which was covering seats in order for members of the public to abide by social distancing rules.
Monique Agius
09:54 Lawyers Philip Galea Farrugia and Nadia Attard who are appearing on behalf of the AG's office also walked into the courtroom.
Monique Agius
09:52 Dr Marion Camilleri, Dr Gianluca Caruana Curran and Dr Charles Mercieca have just entered the courtroom.
Monique Agius
09:51 Newsbook.com.mt is live from courtroom 17. We have spotted former Police Commissioner outside the courtroom.
Monique Agius
09:49 Here's what happened during the last sitting in brief:

– Keith Schembri said Fenech never informed him of the murder

– Schembri testified that Joseph Muscat told him to tell Fenech not to leave Malta

– Schembri claimed that the PN leader Adrian Delia had asked Yorgen Fenech for €50,000 so that David Casa would not be re-elected as an MEP. Delia denied this claim

– Keith Schembri also claimes that the form Head of media for the PN Pierre Portelli used to collect money from Fenech and that he once saw him at the Portomaso reception

– Schembri denies writing a letter to doctor Adrian Vella to pass on to Fenech
Monique Agius
09:47 Good morning and welcome to this live blog.
Monique Agius