Government Pardons: one down, one to go

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in Parliament that President Geoge Vella informed him that he had accepted the recommendation of Government and granted pardon to  Melvin Theuma. He added that there was another request for another pardon pending. Although the Prime Minister did not mention any names it is understood that he was referring to the request for a pardon made by Yorgen Fenech.

Meaning of ‘turning state’s evidence’

While this sort of testimony is called ‘tuning state’s evidence’ or more colloquially ‘Presidential Pardon’ constitutional experts have observed that it is in effect the government who decides who will be pardoned. The same experts have confirmed that the President is obliged to follow up on this recommendation. The experts said that cabinet delegates who can recommend a government pardon. Prime Minister Muscat said that he has that delegation of power.

Government in a statement confirmed that, as always happens, the pardon is a conditional one and that the person receiving the pardon is obliged to truthfully tell al he knows about the case.

Melvin Theuma was one of the two persons currently in police custody who had asked for a pardon to give information that can lead to the mind behind the assasination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The other person asking for pardon is Yorgen Fenech.

Although generally one pardon is given for one case there is nothing cast in stone and the government can ‘recommend’ to the President to give pardon to Yorgen Fenech as well.

The ‘loan shark’ pardoned

Melvin Theuma had been the first to turn state’s evidence. In a covert operation in which Interpol and Europol were involved, Theuma was arrested in connection to money-laundering crimes. The media reported that Theuma had told the police that he would give evidence which would lead to the mastermind behind the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. This he would do only if he were granted the possibility of turning state’s evidence.

Ostensibly a taxi driver, Theuma is a loan-shark of the first order having climbed up the steps of the criminal world throught the Marsa horse racing circuit. It was in that millieu that he met the Degiorgios, currently undergoing trial as the executionoers of Caruana Galizia.

Fenech asked for pardon

A few days later Yorgen Fenech was arrested. While it may appear that Fenech was arrested because he was grassed by Theuma, the Prime Minister sad that Fenech was arrested for other reasons. Fenech, the former CEO of to Tumas Group, director of Electrogas and owner of the company 17 Black is being investigated in realtion to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Sources confirmed that Fenech had asked for a government pardon.

Controversy linked to pardons

Observers have commented with Newsbook.com.mt that a government pardon is always controversial. The Prime Minister had originally said that he was not a major supporter of pardons. This government pardon is likely to be the cause of even bigger controversy since the information given by those who spill the beans may lead to investigations into and possibly arrests in the political sphere, even in cabinet. The same observers asked: Was it Theuma or Fenech who gave the most valuable infromation leading to the arrests in the political sphere? Also, if one of these two is not given the government pardon, will the information, possibly even the political connection, die? Is the giving of the pardon a sign that Theuma has stronger evidence to give than Fenech, unless Fenech is also given a pardon?