The compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech, accused of complicity in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, continued on Monday.
This morning Joseph Muscat’s former chief-of-staff Keith Schembri testified against his long time friend and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. On Sunday Schembri took to social media ahead of today’s sitting saying that “it’s time for the truth to come out”.
On Monday, Kenneth Camilleri was expected to testify, however, as the court informed him of his rights, Camilleri chose not to testify so as not to incriminate himself since investigations are still ongoing.
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Doctor Adrian Vella will be expected to testify.
Today's court sitting ends here. The next session is scheduled for the 30th of June at 10 am.
The defence team expects the request to be communicated but the Magistrate said that no action can be taken for now.
The court said that the request can be processed during the next sitting and not today through recourse mechanisms.
Lawyer Mercieca is quoting European Law.
The defence team is also requesting that their client Yorgen Fenech could come to court an hour prior to the court sittings so that they could discuss certain documentation with the client.
Lawyer Mercieca is saying that when they call their client on the phone they cannot give certain guidance as telephone calls within the CCF are recorded.
The defence team wants their client to have access to his defence team.
The defence team asked the court to explain certain details behind closed doors.
The press was asked to leave the courtroom.
The defence team and the prosecution cannot agree on a particular date.
Keith Arnaud says he is ready to confirm it under oath what inspector Zahra is saying.
The Magistrate asked the defence team if they withdraw such allegations and they said no they will not.
Magistrate Montebello said that such allegations are not permitted.
The defence team is saying that the witness is lying.
Inspector Zahra said that they had instructed Fenech to speak to the investigative crimes unit about allegations of money laundering and related crimes.
Fenech's legal team is saying that the Police had refused (at a particular stage of the investigations) to listen to what Fenech had to say.
Inspector Zahra is saying that the Police never refused to receive any information.
Inspector Zahra said that he vividly recalls Fenech's lawyer telling his client that no the information he wants to add involves people above him.
Zahra recalls a particular incident when he and Arnaud had asked Yorgen Fenech if he had anything else to add to his deposition, Fenech replied yes and said that it involves people on his level.
The lawyers had also requested that their client be granted a presidential pardon which was eventually declined.
He was assisted with Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri.
On the 21st of November 2019, the Police had interrogated Yorgen Fenech.
Zahra said that on the 20th of November 2019 he was informed by inspector Arnaud that Yorgen Fenech was to leave the country.
"Reference is made to media reports regarding Mr Keith Schembri’s testimony in court today in which he gratuitously repeated claims made against me by my former employer, Times of Malta.
I want to, once again, publicly, and categorically, deny that I ever passed on any information whatsoever to Yorgen Fenech in relation to his involvement in the heinous assassination plot of Daphne Caruana Galizia. I never had any such information in the first place, let alone passed it on to Yorgen Fenech.
It is interesting to note that Times of Malta and Keith Schembri are repeating the same lie.
I have already filed legal proceedings against Times of Malta in relation to my unfair dismissal and I look forward to their conclusions so that truth can prevail, and justice is done.
I also reserve my rights at law with regards to the statements made in my regards by Mr Schembri in court today."
Press statement by Ivan Camilleri
Camilleri said that he never had any such information.
In a post on social media, Ivan Camilleri denies that he ever passed on any information to Yorgen Fenech in relation to his involvement in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A few minutes ago journalist Ivan Camilleri issued a statement following Keith Schembri's claims in court today.
Some of the conversations were recorded at Portomaso, said Zahra.
Zahra is saying that Theuma wanted to commit suicide he was so depressed but realised that if he did so no one would know who ordered Daphne's murder, as they would pin the murder on him.
Melvin Theuma told the police that Yorgen Fenech had told him that the raid was to take place on the 5th of December but the raid took place on the 4th.
They had the meeting in a separate room.
According to Theuma, when he visited Fenech at his office in Portomaso, the day after the murder, there were several people in Fenech's office including Turab Musayev.
Theuma immediately felt scared of the situation after the murder.
Zahra said that Theuma said that Melvin Theuma had visited Yorgen Fenech at Portomaso the day after the murder.
Inspector Zahra is referring to Melvin Theuma's testimony in court.
This had emerged from Fenech's testimony to the police, said Zahra.
Zahra is saying that Yorgen Fenech knew beforehand when the general election was to be held in 2017.
Zahra says that the job given to Theuma, the 'phantom job' is still being investigated.
After Thuema's arrest, the police started a number of other investigations in relation to the murder.
He also said that Theuma wanted to open a box at the depot only in the presence of Inspector Keith Arnaud.
Melvin Theuma has already testified on this.
According to Zahra Melvin Theuma started speaking about the case only once he was arrested.
Kurt Zahra also said that Melvin Theuma used to pass on €100 a week to the De Giorgio Brothers and to Vince Muscat. Eventually, only the De Giorgio brothers were getting this money.
Zahra is saying that they did not know if the recordings really existed.
As Melvin Theuma has been arrested, Inspector Zahra was re-involved in the investigations.
The police had received information that Melvin Theuma had a n argument with someone who he referred to as the one who has the tower – "Dak tat-torri."
The police knew that the De Giorgios had their brother Mario De Giorgio as their contact outside of jail.
Zahra said that the first phase of the investigations was concluded with the arrest of the 3 accused.
Yorgen Fenech looks disinterested and is currently going through transcripts of the recordings already presented in court.
Inspector Zahra will now go through the 2nd phase of the investigations.
The inspector said that after investigations the police found out that the people they saw running were not related to the murder but had some visa and residence permit issues.
Zahra said that the three accused had shown no resistance but the police could notice people running towards the regatta club.
Zahra and Arnaud co-ordinated the raid.
He continued saying that they intended to raid the potato shed as soon as the De Giorgios and Muscat would enter the shed.
Zahra is going through details on the police collaborated with Europol.
Zahra said that since the then Prime Minister had announced a €1 million reward for whoever knew who was involved, the police had assigned a special unit to receive the calls as they knew it would be time-consuming since many would be calling with false information in order to try and get the €1 million reward.
Zahra gave the example that if one of the phones of the accused was in a particular location at a particular time, the burner phone was too.
Zahra is also saying that the activity on the personal phones of the De Giorgios and Muscat and the 3 burner phones were always tracked in the same location.
Inspector Zahra continued saying that these phones were tracked to the Marsa potato shed, through antennas.
These details have already emerged during the compilation of evidence against Alfred and George De Giorgio and Vince Muscat.
From these sim cards, the police could identify a further 2 mobile phones which were used to make contact with the sim card which activated the car bomb.
The sim cards to activate the car bomb were bought at the end of 2016 and activated at the beginning of 2017.
Zahra took the responsibility of the fieldwork investigations and Arnaud would focus on the FBI's investigations.
Kurt Zahra continued to explain that together with Keith Arnaud they decided to separate their tasks.
Zahra is saying that they had also asked for the footage from dashcams of parents who take their children to a school nearby.
Amongst the details he is mentioning; how they found cigarette butts on top of a hill where once could see a good view of Daphne's home in Bidnija.
Zahra is mentioning details which already emerged in court.
The person had also told the police that the white car had "Q & Z" as the last letters on the number plate.
From the Police investigations, the police found out that a person living close by noticed a white car with a sticker on it which used to come always to the same spot for three weeks prior to the murder.
Matthew Caruana Galizia told him that his mother left the house and returned because she forgot her cheque book and left again. A few minutes later he hears an explosion and as soon as he goes out of the house he sees his mother's car which had exploded, said Zahra.
He recalls how he spoke to Daphne's son, Matthew Caruana Galizia.
Inspector Zahra is going through the details of the investigations such as when he arrived on the scene and who was present on the scene of the crime.
Zahra also said that the investigations are divided into three sections. The third and final phase is when Yorgen Fenech was arrested and accused of the murder.
Kurt Zahra said that the investigations started on the 16th of October 2017.
He is giving details on the format of the investigations.
Next to take the witness stand is Inspector Kurt Zahra.
Kenneth Camilleri walked out of the courtroom.
The court informed Camilleri that since investigations are still ongoing he has the right not to give his testimony.
Kenneth Camilleri chose not to give his testimony after the court informed him of his rights.
Kenneth Camilleri is asked to take the witness stand.
Magistrate Montebello re-entered the courtroom.
Theuma told the court that he suspected that they were sent either by Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech.
Theuma said that Kenneth promised him that the accused would be getting €1 million and bail, however, they got no money nor bail.
The name was mentioned in testimony by Melvin Theuma who said that he had received a call from “a certain Johann Cremona and a Kenneth who worked at Castille”.
He had resigned from the police force, having reached pensionable service age and was given a senior management post with government, with a salary of over € 30,000.
Kenneth Camilleri was, until last year, the Prime Minister’s personal security escort.
While we are waiting to get back in session let's take a look at who Kenneth Camilleri is.
Next to take the witness stand is Kenneth Camilleri.
We are now waiting for Magistrate Montebello to re-enter.
After Schembri's testimony, the Court ordered a 15-minute break.
Neville Gafa, who also escorted Keith Schembri out of court is now again outside courtroom 9 next to Kenneth Camilleri who is next to take the witness stand.
A number of security officers escorted Keith Schembri out of court to his car.
Keith Schembri did not say anything to the press.
All media was waiting outside court including Newsbook.com.mt to take Schembri's comments.
The prosecution said that Keith Schembri will once more be asked to give his testimony.
Keith Schembri's testimony ends here.
Inspector Arnaud is asking questions on Schembri phone if he had found it.
According to Schembri Dr Vella told him that Fenech needed some time alone.
Keith Schembri is saying that it was Doctor Adrian Vella who told him this.
Schembri says the weekend before Yorgen Fenech was arrested, Fenech was in Gozo.
"I feel comfortable testifying on these matters" – replied Schembri.
The court once again informs Schembri he has every right not to answer any questions even though he chose to testify.
Schembri says he does not know how Joseph Muscat knew.
"The then Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, told me to tell Yorgen Fenech to not leave the country" – said Schembri.
Keith Schembri is saying that he knew about Theuma's presidential pardon but did not know the terms and conditions of it.
The Opposition leader stated that it is obvious that people like Keith Schembri are implicated in some way or another in Daphne's murder and therefore are trying to implicate other people through their lies even though he is under oath.
Also, in the meantime, the PN Leader Adrian Delia has also issued a statement denying Schembri's claims in court.
In a statement on Facebook, MaltaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan and executive editor Matthew Vella said that MaltaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan denies ever having had any prior knowledge of the police raid on the men charged with the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
"Keith Schembri’s assertion in court that MaltaToday was aware of the raid is untrue" – said Malta Today.
In the meantime, Malta Today has denied Schembri's allegations.
"I knew around 3 or 4 months prior to Fenech's arrest" – said Schembri.
After Melvin Theuma's arrest, he started communicating with Fenech on the murder and that he knew Fenech was a suspect (He knew from the briefings)
Keith Schembri is also saying that he knew that Fenech was trying to escape and suggested to him to not draw more attention on him as Fenech told him that he wanted to go to Sicily to repair his Yacht.
He also says that Fenech told him that "The Times" is behind him (In relation to investigations).
But he does recall a message from Fenech in which he asked him (Fenech) for help.
Schembri does not recall he received a message from Yorgen Fenech on the eve of Fenech's arrest.
The court warns Schembri that he is not allowed to ask any questions.
He then asks if Vella has already testified.
Keith Schembri said that he never passed on any messages or documents or letters to Dr Adrain Vella.
Around 400-500 people were invited to this party, according to Schembri, which was organised by the then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Schembri says it might have been on a Sunday as afterwards, he attended for a party at Girgenti.
In November 2019, Schembri recalls Dr Vella visiting him.
"I never wrote any letter and gave it to Adrian Vella to pass on to Fenech" – said Schembri.
Keith Schembri is saying that he never wrote any letters.
Lawyer Jason Azzopardi re-enters the courtroom.
Yorgen Fenech's family had suggested Doctor Vella to Keith Schembri.
Keith Schembri says he has known doctor Adrian Vella for the past 7 to 8 years.
Lawyer Charles Mercieca re-enters.
Keith Schembri denies he communicated with Judge Antonio Mizzi.
Inspector Keith Arnaud is searching for part of the transcript of the recordings where reference is made to Judge Antonio Mizzi. – Transcript of voice 007 is found.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Charles Mercieca exit the courtroom.
"I would be ready to do anything for my friends if they are in trouble but not in this case" – stated Keith Schembri.
"You could have at least told me" – said Balzan according to what Schembri is testifying.
Keith Schembri said that it was Saviour Balzan who had contacted him and told him why he did not inform him about the raid.
Keith Schembri is saying that Malta Today knew the raid was going to happen.
Inspectors Arnaud and Zahra told lawyer Mercieca to address the court if he has any queries.
The defence team, in particular lawyer Charles Mercieca, is passing comments during Schembri's testimony.
In the meantime, former Head of PN media, Pierre Portelli has posted on social media denying Keith Schembri's allegations.
Schembri categorically denies Melvin Theuma's allegations.
Keith Schembri is being presented with a document which states that Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri ordered the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
For these meetings, the Police Commissioner used to be present and even Mark Mallia – AFM official used to be present.
Keith Schembri is referring to the briefings between the police and government officials including Joseph Muscat.
Schembri is saying that the meeting during which they were informed the De Giorgio's and Muscat were to be arrested, was held on a Saturday and the operation was to be held on the following Monday.
Regarding the date, Theuma was to be raided, Keith Schembri did not know the date but he knew when the De Giorgio's and Muscat were to be arrested in December 2017.
Schembri said that he was present for the briefing when the pardon for Vince Muscat was being discussed.
Pressed by Magistrate Montebello, Schembri replied yes.
Magistrate Montebello is asking Schembri if he used to know certain details on the investigations.
The first meeting/briefing was when the police were about to arrest the De Giorgio's and Muscat.
Keith Schembri is saying that during briefings with the police, during which former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat used to be present, he used to be present too and that they were not really informed on the latest developments on the investigations.
"He never mentioned anything to me on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia" – continued saying Keith Schembri.
"Yorgen never informed me about any murder," said Keith Schembri.
Schembri is saying that he has listened to the recordings over and over again and that there are many inaccuracies.
Magistrate Montebello asks Schembri if he ever received a call or communicated with Kenneth Camilleri. Schembri said no.
"I never, never and never discussed any bail with anyone." stated Schembri.
Schembri also said he does not know Mario De Giorgio – the brother of Alfred and George De Giorgio.
"I knew who they were after they were arrested, thank God" – said Keith Schembri.
Schembri also denies he knows Alfred and George De Giorgio and Vince Muscat.
Keith Schembri said that Fenech had mentioned Theuma with him once.
Schembri said that he does not think that Yorgen knows Kenneth Camilleri.
Arnaud is asking Schembri about Kenneth Camilleri.
Schembri said he once saw Portelli waiting there but did not ask him what he was doing there.
Keith Schembri has also mentioned Pierre Portelli who used to wait for Fenech at Portomaso's reception to grant him with €20,000.
Last week, PN Leader Adrian Delia signed an affidavit in court stating that he was never bribed in order to not get David Casa elected to the European Parliament. This came after Melvin Theuma, middleman in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, stated during court proceedings that Yorgen Fenech had bribed the PN to do so.
Schembri is saying that in one instance PN leader Adrian Delia had asked him for €50,000 so that MEP David Casa would not be re-elected.
Schembri is saying that Fenech had told him that there were people in politics who used to eat, drink and even get drunk at Fenech's and then they used to ask him for money.
Schembri mentions Silvio Valletta.
Schembri is not comfortable answering questions on who used to be present at Fenech's dinners at the ranch.
"Theuma was not there for dinner at Yorgen's ranch. He was there but not for dinner." – stated Schembri
Schembri is saying that when he saw Theuma at Yorgen Fenech's ranch, he did not recall meeting him at Castille.
He does not recall when he started wearing the glasses but said he spent around 2 months wearing them.
Theuma was on the list of individuals he was expected to meet at his office in Castille.
Schembri said it was taken around 2017.
Arnaud shows the photo to Keith Schembri.
Magistrate Montebello said that he cannot testify on what he is assuming.
Schembri said he thinks that Theuma wanted to involve him because he knew he was a government official.
Keith Schembri is saying that during the raid and when Melvin Theuma was arrested the police found the photo, the work contract Theuma was given within the public sector.
"It was him who decided to come to me at my office at Castille. It was him who asked to take a phone with him with a photo of Joseph Muscat at the back" – said Schembri.
He said that during the COVID-19 pandemic he had time to think and he concluded that no one sent Melvin Theuma for a job at Castille.
He said that he met Melvin Theuma twice – At Castille and at Fenech's farmhouse.
He also recalls calling Mark Schapiro to request his assistance in this case.
Schembri is saying that as soon as the news broke that a car exploded in Bidnija and it was Daphne Caruana Galizia inside the car, he was shocked.
Schembri recalls he was at Castille at the time.
Arnaud is now asking Schembri on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Schembri also said that the Panama company was temporary because he intended to venture into gaming soon after he leaves politics and that he wanted to do business with Yorgen Fenech who owned 17 Black.
It then was suggested to him to open a trust in New Zealand.
Schembri said that information regarding his trust at the BOV was being leaked to the PN.
Schembri says he had opened a trust with BOV back in 2013.
Keith Schembri is saying that when he was asked by journalists why he did not take legal action and file a libel against Caruana Galizia, Schembri said that the reason he did not because court proceedings take long.
Lawyer Jason Azzopardi says the defence team has no right to do so.
The defence team is objecting that Keith Schembri answers questions on 17 Balck.
"I explained to my colleagues, reality and fiction" – Keith Schembri.
Schembri said he never discussed the blog on 17 black with anyone apart from colleagues at Castille.
Keith Schembri said that there were far worse blogs written by Caruana Galizia.
What was your reaction to this blog? Asked Arnaud.
Arnaud is asking Schembri about a post published in February 2017 about 17 Black.
He said he got used to her writings.
Inspector Arnaud is asking Keith Schembri about the blogs written by murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
He also remembers telling Cremona how was their friend Yorgen Fenech.
According to Schembri, it was Cremona who requested a meeting to discuss something related to gaming.
Schembri confirms he met Johann Cremona once during a meeting at Castille.
Schembri also said that during 2019 Yorgen Fenech used to go abroad many times but never told him why.
Keith Schembri said he used to see many people at his ranch including police officers and politicians.
He also said that Fenech used to invite him to his ranch in Zebbug.
"It was a good friendship" – said Schembri.
Schembri said he never was a business partner with Yorgen Fenech.
Keith Schembri said that Fenech visited him at his house twice post 2013.
Schembri is saying they were very good friends and he is a pleasant man to hand around with.
Schembri said that he has known Fenech for years since they were young and they became close again in 2010 and 2011.
Inspector Arnaud is asking Schembri for how long has he known Yorgen Fenech and how.
Keith Schembri said he will choose to testify today.
The court has informed Schembri that he has every right not to testify today.
Yorgen Fenech is starring as his 'long-time friend' Keith Schembri.
Keith Schembri is askd to take the witness stand.
Fenech is constantly consulting with his lawyers.
Fenech's legal team noticed how is it possible for a witness to have his legal team (Keith Schembri's lawyers) discussing if he should or should not testify today.
Arnaud said that it could be but since investigations are still ongoing they cannot tell as the Police did not have the intention to summon to the witness stand Keith Schembri, today.
Magistrate Montebello is asking Arnaud if today's witness, referring to Schembri, could be considered as a suspect in the case in the future.
Keith Schembri's lawyers said that there is still data that is being analysed and investigated.
Arnaud said he has no problem that they are asked questions on what has already emerged from previous court sittings.
Arnaud also said that investigations are still ongoing therefore he is requesting the court to suspend Schembri's and Camilleri's testimony if they are asked questions related to information still being investigated.
Inspector Arnaud said that Kenneth Camilleri is also expected to testify today.
The court ordered this CD to be transcripted.
Inspector Kurt Zahra has presented to the court a copy of the interrogation of Yorgen Fenech.
This has been agreed between all parties involved.
The court has appointed a court expert in order to optimise certain recordings presented in court.
The court approved.
Lawyer Charles Mercieca, representing Fenech, has asked the court so that his client could sit next to his legal team.
All media is now seated as the courted decided that all the press has the right to attend the sitting.
Magistrate Montebello has entered the courtrom.
We have entered the courtroom. Not all journalists are seated to be able to report as the courtroom is relatively small.
Heavily armed security officers accompanied Fenech
Those waiting outside the courtroom were asked to step aside so that Fenech could enter.
Yorgen Fenech has just entered the courtroom.
Keith Schembri can be seen walking down the hallway while talking to Dr Deborah Schembri.
Adrian Vella, personal doctor to Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech is also expected to testify today.
We are still waiting to enter the courtroom.
12 members of the press will today be reporting from court including Newsbook.com.mt.
Police inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra can be seen talking to each other outside the courtroom.
The sitting was expected to start at 10 am.
Around 30 people including the press are waiting to enter the courtroom.
Members of the Caruana Galizia family are, as always, present.
Amongst those present; Neville Gafa and Kenneth Camilleri.
The press will be allowed to enter first as today many have turned up to hear Keith Schembri's testimony.
We are currently waiting to enter courtroom 9.
Good morning and welcome to this live blog.