Shocking testimony from Melvin Theuma

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

12:25 Case adjourned to 12 December and 7 January.

12:17 The lawyers and police inspectors have approached the bench, out of the earshot of the media.

12:14 Theuma’s testimony was suspended until copies of the recordings can be made and given to the court. Magistrate Claire Straface Zammit asked how many days are required to make copies of the recordings.

Ara x'intqal fil-Qorti minn hawn: http://bit.ly/35YCMRg

Posted by Newsbook.com.mt on Wednesday, December 4, 2019

12:00 Theuma told the court that he prepared a pendrive with snippets of the recordings which were done in Portomaso, in the car and Level 21, a letter and the photo. He sent these with Johann Cremona, to show them that he really had the recordings in hand. These recordings started after he was tipped off that Muscat was speaking to the police. Theuma would put the phone on airplane mode and record their conversations.

Theuma then was not sure whether he sent the photo or otherwise. The envelope which was sent to Yorgen Fenech was his insurance so that if something happened to him, the envelope would go to Stamperija. He told the court that he was doing this, because he was scared that they would either kill him or put him in prison.

Arnaud asked Theuma why did he mention Keith Schembri in his letter. Theuma replied that Fenech and Schembri were very close, ‘qisu ta’ warajh’. Adding that Kenneth who had turned up at his house, worked at Castille and assumed that he was sent by Schembri.

11:56 Theuma says the bomb that blew up Carauna Galizia was manufactured at Maksar. Maksar is the family nickname of Adrian and Robert Agius, two men who had been arrested in December 2017 in connection with the murder but released.

11:49 Keith Arnaud asked whether he was tipped off on other occasions. Fenech then called him saying that there is a problem, since Vince Muscat started talking to the police about the case. Theuma then met with Mario Degiorgio informing him that Muscat was speaking to the police.

He then received a call from a certain Johann Cremona and a Kenneth who worked at Castille. 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.

‘I was not sure if Keith had sent Kenneth’ Theuma said, insisting that he could not have fallen from the sky.

Since the Degiorgios were not granted bail, they started to grow nervous, according to Theuma. He explained that he confronted Fenech about ‘Kenneth’, asking him whether he was sent by Keith Schembri. Fenech did not reply, Theuma told the court.

“I told him that if it was Keith (Schembri) I would take Mario Degiorgio right behind his front door in Mellieħa,” Theuma tells the court. 

He explained that it was then that fear kicked in and started recording the conversations with Fenech.

Theuma said that he felt it was not true that Vince Muscat was really speaking to the police. He became suspicious since Fenech and Schembri were very close, saying that he thought that they were trying to either get him arrested instead. ‘Sieħbu u mhux sieħbu, hekk kien jgħid fuqu.’ Theuma continued.

The recordings were passed onto the inquiring magistrate.

11:29 Theuma started forking out €300 a week after the three men were arrested. A decision he took by himself ‘biex ikollhom xi ħaġa’. He would give this money to Lolly who would then give the money to Muscat’s daughter and possibly to Degiorgio’s other brother. Fenech ignored the receipts he was shown by Theuma.

Theuma said that after the killing he was feeling very bad. He told the court that Fenech got worried that Theuma might reveal information about him. Fenech, gave me €5,000 and we went on a holiday with my partner and son, Theuma told the court. He also set up his will, after the Degiorgios were arrested. The will was drawn up within days. Theuma started fearing for his life.

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud asked Theuma how he knew Mario Degiorgio.

Theuma said that there was one known as il-Gandhi at Ħamrun and a inmate had called him when Alfred Degiorgio had said hi. Later Alfred Degiorgio would speak to Theuma over the phone. Mario Degiorgio pulled Theuma aside and told him that the accused required €30,000 for their lawyer. Theuma went to Fenech to get the money. Fenech allegedly told him that he knew that this day would arrive. Mario Degiorgio allegedly then asked for another €30,000. However, Yorgen Fenech allegedly gave him €25,000. He told the court that he realised that Yorgen Fenech had cut off the €5,000 he had given him for the holiday.

Theuma stopped giving the €100 to Vince Muscat as his wife was questioning where this money was coming from. He would give €200 to Mario Degiorgio. This money came directly from Theuma.

Yorgen Fenech was asked to fork out some €2,000 to €3,000 for school expenses, foreign experts, among others.

Theuma also paid some €5,000 for a dog for Mario Degiorgio.

A week before Theuma’s raid, Fenech was doing a drug rehabilitation programme, since he has a cocaine addiction.

George Degiorgio’s wife asked for €60,000 as bail money. Fenech told him that the agreement was that the money would be given only when bail was granted. However, Degiorgio’s wife would have then transferred the money into a foreign account to avoid facing questions about where the money originated from.

Fenech gave him €20,000 as soon as he returned from Euro Disney a few days before the raid on Theuma took place.

‘I did not take a cent from the contract killing,’ Theuma told the court. ‘I was close to Fenech. You should ask how much money I have forked out.’

‘My life ended after the killing. I ended up going from person to person with replies. I had, had enough. I tried jumping off the roof. Afterwards I realised I was wrong.’ Theuma told the court.

Theuma told the court that the bomb was manufactured at Maksar.

11:19 Some 15 days later, Fenech would call Theuma and meet him in front of Toyota showroom in Zebbug. Fenech told him that there was some trouble as the investigators had found the message which detonated the bomb.

Some €120,000 were still with Theuma. He would then arrange to give them the rest of the money. Theuma and Degiorgio met at Theuma’s garage in Wied il-Għajn.

An additional €5,000 were requested for binoculars and expenses related to the renting of the car. A total of €125,000 in cash.

Fenech tipped off Melvin Theuma that a raid was scheduled for December 5. Theuma asked if he could inform Degiorgio, with Fenech replying in the affirmative. He then informed Degiorgio of a huge raid.

Meanwhile… lawyer Victor Bugeja who appears for Darren Debono (it-Topo) informed the court that his client is denying the allegations being made against him by Melvin Theuma.

11:10 During the visit to Bidnija, Alfred explained their hideout. The killing was called off once when the alleged killers found a police roadblock next to the roundabout.

Alfred Degiorgio would spend time spying on Caruana Galizia from afar. Police Inspector Keith Arnaud asked if he was aware of any other details. Theuma told the court that Alfred Degiorgio would look out and use binoculars to monitor Caruana Galizia’s movement.

Theuma said that he was not aware of the date when Daphne Caruana Galizia was going to be killed. ‘All I can tell you is that five – six days earlier I tried contacting Alfred Degiorgio on our burner phones, but could not reach him’. Asked why he contacted him, Theuma said that Fenech had called him urging him to speak to Degiorgio to carry out the killing as soon as possible.

Theuma said that after Caruana Galizia was killed he started being afraid. He called Fenech who told him to come and see him at Level 21 at Hilton. When he went to Hilton, a meeting was underway. There was a certain Turan at this meeting. He then was taken aside. Fenech calmed him down saying that there is no need to worry and that the FBI would investigate like the Maltese police.

Keith Arnaud asks about the mastermind, with Theuma saying that ‘the mastermind is Yorgen Fenech of Tumas’.

Lawyer William Cuschieri objected to a series of direct questions by Police Inspector Keith Arnaud.

11:05 Alfred Degiorgio had asked about Caruana Galizia’s whereabouts. Fenech told Theuma about Caruana Galizia’s whereabouts a cafeteria in Naxxar and a restaurant in Rabat. He then passed the information to Alfred Degiorgio.

Theuma was given a burner phone by Degiorgio, with the latter warning him not to go to the potato shed. He only had Alfred Degiorgio’s number saved. Once his son was playing with the phone and called Theuma’s partner. He had called Alfred when he was in Euro Disney with his son, since Fenech was pressuring them to carry out the murder.

Once Degiorgio took Theuma to Bidnija using Muscat’s car to show that the work was being done.

10:47 Two days after Theuma spoke to Yorgen Fenech, Fenech told him Sandro Craus from Castille would call him. As soon as he hung up, Sandro Craus called him to inform him about a meeting with former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. The next day he would meet Keith Schembri. Before going inside, Theuma called Fenech asking him from were to enter as he was a bit hesitant to enter. Theuma entered from the main door. Schembri gave Theuma a tour of Castille. He was also given an espresso and then met with Craus. He also took a selfie with Schembri at Castille. Craus told him that he is being given a job with a ministry which is in front of the Royal Opera House.

Schembri was at a meal in Fenech’s house in Żebbuġ, where Theuma met Schembri for the first time. Some twelve people were invited.

Theuma said that he later went to the ministry. He did not go to work but received a paycheck until two months later after the election. He then informed Fenech that he was not receiving the paycheck anymore. ‘If you asked me, I wouldn’t know what my job was at the ministry, as I never went. He allegedly spoke with a Tony but could not recall if it was Sammut or Muscat.

When the election was announced, Fenech told him to halt the assassination. When he spoke to Alfred Degiorgio, Degiorgio warned him ‘if he orders you again, make sure you come back to us’, with Theuma assuring Degiorgio that he would.

Once the electoral campaign was underway, Theuma would bet money on behalf of Fenech. A total of €150,000 were placed. Fenech won a total of €150,000. Therefore Theuma had to give him €300,000 in total. Out of friendship, Theuma said that he did not take his 5% interest.

The two would use WhatsApp and Signal to call.

On Sunday after the result was announced, Fenech allegedly called Theuma saying that the murder of the journalist is still on. However, Theuma did not act on it. Since he felt that Yorgen was drunk.

Fenech gave him a brown envelope with €150,000 in cash on his way to the airport and told him to act on Caruana Galizia’s murder. He then told Fenech that he did not contact Alfred Degiorgio.

Theuma told the court that Fenech would call him everyday to make sure that killing is executed. ‘Go tell them to kill her, because the information will be published.’ It was then he realised that the killing was not for Ray, but for Yorgen, Theuma told the court.

He would then go to the potato shed, that at one point Degiorgio became suspicious.

“Hurry up and kill her,” Fenech reportedly told Theuma.

Fenech told Theuma to ensure that the bomb would kill her and not leave her alive, like what had happened with Romeo Bono who lost two legs.

10:40 Theuma says that they would go up to France to watch horse races. Theuma said that Fenech would pay for everything including meals. Theuma says he knew his uncle Ray Fenech, he later got to know Yorgen Fenech. Theuma explained that Fenech would eventually bet horses.

Fenech allowed him access to Portomaso some five years ago. He explained that taxi drivers would require confirmation from the management.

Once he was at work in Hilton, he went home, made himself a coffee. He got a call from Fenech asking him to come to Portomaso to speak to him. This happened in 2017 around two to three weeks before the government announced the snap election.

He would then go back to Portomaso and meet Fenech. Fenech allegedly told Theuma that he wants to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia because she will publish information about Ray, his uncle.

‘Irrid noqtol lil Daphne Caruana Galizia, ghax se tohrog informazzjoni fuq Ray’

He then called Darren it-Topo to obtain Alfred Degiorgio’s number. He then scheduled an appointment for a day later at 2pm at the potato shed.

The next day, Theuma met Degiorgio. Theuma told Degiorgio ‘I have a person who wants to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia.’ Alfred Degiorgio allegedly replied ‘but does this guy pay?’

The next appointment was two days later at Busy Bee, as Alfred Degiorgio would tell him not to come to the potato shed in Marsa.

Degiorgio asked for €150,000 with €30,000 in advance. The three men were never told it was Yorgen Fenech who had sent him.

10:34 Melvin Theuma takes the witness stand. Magistrate Claire Straface Zammit explained the conditions of the presidential pardon to Theuma as he stood on the witness stand. He is accompanied by his lawyer Matthew Brincat.

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud asked if he knows the accused. Theuma turned around and pointed at the three accused saying that he knows all three of them.

Theuma said he knew Alfred Degiorgio first, and then met his brother and Muscat. He says that Darren Debono (it-Topo) required a flat, and that he came with the Degiorgios and he had rented a flat to them. That is when he met them for the first time.

Arnaud asked after meeting them for the first time, how did the relationship develop.

Theuma says he was a friend of Yorgen Fenech, he would even travel abroad with him. He would drive him to his father’s funeral. He told the court that they were in France and had advised him on how the story would develop. And then he would start recording.

10:30 Defence lawyer William Cuschieri said that his clients are protesting the granting of presidential pardon. Chief Prosecutor Keith Arnaud told the court that Theuma was given presidential pardon on November 25, and therefore no action will be taken against Theuma as long as he adheres to the terms on which he was granted pardon.

Lawyer Cuschieri declared that court proceedings have been initiated through a judicial protest and subsequently a case which will be filed against the granting of presidential pardon to the witness.

10:28 Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit entered the court room.

10:24 We’re live from Hall 7 where Melvin Theuma is set to testify. The courtroom is full, the family slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are present in the courtroom. Foreign and local media is also present. Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi is already in the courtroom, as well as defence lawyer William Cuschieri who is appearing for Alfred and George Degiorgio.

The two brothers have just walked into the court room, accompanied by two policemen. Vince Muscat too entered and is sitting on the left side. He is also accompanied by a policeman.

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud is also present.

Background

Taxi driver Melvin Theuma is set to testify in court on Wednesday morning against three men who stand accused of planting and detonating the bomb which killed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Theuma was earlier granted a presidential pardon in exchange for information. The compilation of evidence against brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat was reopened after an application by the Attorney General.

Theuma was initially arrested in connection to money-laundering offences.

Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra led the prosecution.

Lawyers Nadia Attard and Philip Galea Farrugia are appearing for the AG’s office.

Lawyers William Cuschieri, Martin Fenech and Josette Demicoli appeared for the accused.