Theuma was informed that he would be arrested

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

13:18 Case adjourned. Now it is up to the defence counsel to decide if they would like to cross-examine the witness and file an application.

13:16 ‘A month before my arrest, I knew that I was going to be arrested,’ Melvin Theuma replied to Azzopardi. He said he could not remember who told him but for sure it was not Edwin Brincat il-Gojja who told him in reply to a question by Dr Azzopardi. He then said that it might have been Johann Cremona.

13:11 Asked about Caruana Galizia’s laptop which they had heard about it on the news. He said that he had a discussion on this with Yorgen Fenech – saying that Fenech had said it would be better for him if they brought Caruana Galizia’s laptop from Germany as this was divert attention.

Dr Azzopardi reminded him about banners which were hung around Malta asking ‘Where is Daphne’s laptop?’. The time these banners were hung coincided with the time that Muscat started speaking to the police. Theuma recalled the banners.

13:05 Theuma told the court that he knew where Schembri lived because he had driven Fenech there. Dr Azzopardi asked about the contents found in the plastic box which included the photo of Theuma and Schembri. Theuma said that he was pressured in helping the Degiorgios with bail. He had threatened Fenech of driving Mario Degiorgio outside Schembri’s house in Mellieha.

Dr Azzopardi asked him about the receipts for the legal expenses, which amount to €79,000. He asked him what he thought, he said that it is very expensive.

Fenech had kept Theuma informed about Vincent Muscat’s request for presidential pardon which was discussed during a cabinet meeting for which Owen Bonnici was present. Fenech had told him to keep it quiet. He feared that things could go wrong.

12:56 Theuma said that he met Kenneth Camilleri some two or three times. Once he met him inside a garage where one could park some three buses. Dr Azzopardi asked how he knew Camilleri, Theuma replied he knew Kenneth working as a traffic policeman but did not know he was part of the prime minister’s security, he knew however, that Kenneth worked at Castille.

The argument between the Fenech and Theuma happened in Summer 2018, however, Theuma could not recall exactly.

Speaking about Kenneth’s phone call, Theuma said that it was about bail and the details about the million euros each they would get once the three men are released.

‘Who is so rich to pay €3 million each?’ Dr Azzopardi asked. Theuma replied that both Schembri and Fenech are rich. Dr Azzopardi pointed out that, during the last sitting Theuma had come to the conclusion that it was Schembri that had sent Kenneth. Theuma said that ‘Kenneth could not have fallen from the sky’.

‘Last year, for sure,’ Theuma insisted saying that it was not this year. He did not inquiry further about the money and promise for bail. He did recall asking Kenneth twice if he could inform Mario Degiorgio.

12:51 Theuma was a bookmaker and would deal in property. He bought a Swieqi apartment for €270,000 out of which around €100,000 were paid in cash and the rest were paid by a loan from BOV.

Dr Azzopardi asked him about his field in Hal Safi for which a development permit was issued.

€400,000 were elevated from Theuma’s house in Zurrieq when he was arrested.

Dr Azzopardi asked him about when Fenech told him to inform Ta’ Maksar about the bomb being manufactured at their garage. Theuma said that he did not know Ta’ Maksar and ignored him. He added, that he probably told him so to alert them.

12:44 Dr Azzopardi read out the letter penned by Theuma. He confirmed the letter which was read out by Azzopardi, ‘I don’t deny it, I wrote it myself’.

He refers him to a sentence in his letter where he says that he was fired, he said that ‘Spiccajt barra qabel il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia.’

‘Keith il-kasco la qatt ma semilli lil Daphne la qatt ma ghaddieli l-pagamenti, jien bil-gurament, (as he kissed the cross again)’ Theuma says, adding that ‘for me, Fenech is the mastermind’.

Azzopardi refers to what Fenech said under interrogation that he received €75,000 from Keith Schembri in a Reebok bag. Theuma said that he did not know any of this. Theuma continued saying that he did not really understand English and would not know what Turab and Fenech would say when he was driving them around.

‘Did Yorgen Fenech ever tell you that Schembri was set to make €80 million from Electrogas over a number of years?’ Azzopardi asked Theuma. ‘No, he said.’

At a point, lawyer Deborah Schembri walked into the courtroom to follow the proceedings.

12:39 Theuma drew up his will some two days after the arrests took place. Azzopardi asked why a 38-year-old man like him, felt the need to draw up the will?

Theuma said that he started fearing Fenech would kill him, adding that he was never threatened by Fenech and they only had one argument when Muscat started spilling the beans.

Theuma added that he had told Fenech ‘how could Muscat speak about me I do not know him?’ Muscat could be seen looking surprised when Theuma said he did not know him.

This was around April 2018.

Theuma adding that he did not know from where Fenech got this information. Eventually he said ‘He used to get help from Keith Schembri. He had told me eventually.’

Dr Azzopardi noted that Keith Schembri features a number of times on the recordings made by Theuma himself.

12:35 ‘What do you know about the information being passed to Fenech?’ Dr Azzopardi asked to Theuma.

Theuma said that Fenech gave him the information about the message which detonated the bomb, the raid at the Marsa potato shed, adding he never asked Fenech from where he got the information. Not saying it under oath, he said he drew up the conclusion that the information came from Schembri.

Four days before the raid took place, Fenech saw Theuma at Portomaso and asked him to come. Fenech told Theuma: ‘We’ve got problems there, there will be a big raid.’

He then informed Degiorgio about the raid, adding that Degiorgio had appreciated it.

12:31 Theuma was taken aside by Fenech, where he then told him that he was scared about the FBI’s involvement in the case.

‘Until one month after the assassination, no one knew what the message was, except who used it, the service provide and the Secret Services,’ Dr Azzopardi pointed out.

Theuma said that he never asked Fenech from where he got the information on the investigation.

12:28 Theuma was asked about the meeting at the Level 21 after Caruana Galizia’s assassination where there was a man, a foreign national who Theuma had recognised.

Theuma was shown a copy of Turab Musayev’s passport who is a director at Electrogas and Socar and is from Azerbaijan. Theuma confirmed that the man on the passport was the man he had seen him before the meeting. Theuma added that he had driven Thurab on a number of occasions.

12:24 Dr Azzopardi asked about the use of WhatsApp and Signal, Theuma replied that it was Yorgen Fenech that told him that such apps would not be tapped.

Theuma was testifying under cross-examination which was done by Dr Azzopardi.

12:21 Theuma started working in his phantom job on 1 May, the day the election was called. Fenech had called him to call off the killing of the journalist because an election was called. Theuma said that he went to tell Degiorgio that the killing is off, despite having told Yorgen Fenech that he did not give him the go ahead with the killing.

12:13 What interest did Schembri have to get involved? Dr Azzopardi asked. ‘No, I swear he did not mention anything, I swear under oath,’ Theuma replied. ‘Of course, I cannot lie, because there is my presidential pardon at stake,’ Theuma said.

Dr Azzopardi asked where he was taken in Castille. He said that he could not exactly recall. But he was taken to the room where Cabinet meetings are held. He said that he did not go to Craus’ office.

‘I do not recall if it was Keith or myself who asked Sandro Craus to take our the photo,’ Theuma said.

‘I never applied for government job, I had a five minute interview at the ministry next day,’ Theuma replied to Azzopardi’s questions.

‘I always confuse if it was Tony Muscat or Sammut,’ Theuma replied. ‘Tony Sammut is Tony l-iblah,’ Azzopardi replied. ‘Why are you saying so?’ Theuma asked, adding ‘are you implying am lying?’ Azzopardi replied that he did so to know which ‘Tony’ they are referring to.

Theuma said that he did not ask where to punch and other details about his employment. Once when his paycheck did not arrive, he called Fenech and Fenech told him he would receive the cheque shortly.

12:06 Dr Azzopardi continues asking Theuma after he met Degiorgio for the first time after obtaining his number from Darren Debono (it-Topo), he said that there were no more questions except whether the person who was sending him pays.

Azzopardi asked how many times has he met Keith Schembri at Fenech’s house in Zebbug. He stressed that it was only once where he was introduced.

Theuma said that head of customer care Sandro Craus called him around 7pm, at around the same time that he was going to Burger King with his son.

Dr Azzopardi pointed out that at that time that government departments would be closed at that time. Azzopardi asked him if he asked further why Schembri asked him to go to Castille. He had described Schembri as ‘ta’ wara Alla’ during the last sitting.

‘Have you ever communicated with Schembri through Signal or WhatsApp?’ Azzopardi asked; ‘no, never,’ Theuma replied.

He was asked about his visit to Castille. He repeated that he was embarrassed and had to ask Yorgen Fenech from where he should enter. Dr Azzopardi made a series of question to Theuma under cross-examination. These included whether he found it strange that he was being treated like this by the Office of the Prime Minister, whether Schembri told him anything else, or whether he said anything which would imply he knew more. Azzopardi asked Theuma whether Schembri told him that a door led to the Prime Minister’s office.

Theuma said he recalled there were a lot of paintings, there was a picture of Dom Mintoff of which he took a photo.

11:58 Magistrate entered the courtroom. Dr Azzopardi asked about the recording of the call of 14 March 2019, he referred to ‘ix-xih’. Azzopardi asked if he understood correctly and who is ‘ix-xih’.

Theuma said that he was referring to the Prime Minister, explaining that he would discuss with Fenech to speak to the Prime Minister about the granting of bail to the Degiorgio’s.

Dr Azzopardi asked about Theuma’s and Fenech’s relationship. Theuma explained that he knew Fenech’s uncle for more than ten years.

‘Before that day, did you have anyone asking about killing a person?’ Dr Azzopardi said. Theuma replied no, ‘now I got to know what it meant because I ended up drinking whiskey and taking anti-depressants’.

‘I now understood that he is not a friend, he is the worst person in the world,’ Theuma said referring to Yorgen Fenech.

Dr Azzopardi asked whether he was aware that Caruana Galizia never wrote about Fenech. He replied a bit agitated, saying that he once drove Caruana Galizia nearby to Hilton, when she had found the tyres of her car deflated. He said that he did not ask her for money.

11:57 Brothers Degiorgio came back to the courtroom.

11:40 Magistrate Stafrace Zammit gave a short break, after which Theuma will be cross-examined by lawyer Jason Azzopardi.

11:32 Recordings of outgoing phone calls made by George Degiorgio were then played in court. The recording was a phone call between Mario Degiorgio, Guza Degiorgio, Melvin Theuma and George Degiorgio. In this recording Guza Degiorgio was heard saying ‘How are you? Am praying for you.’

11:32 Recordings of outgoing phone calls made by George Degiorgio were then played in court. The recording was a phone call between Mario Degiorgio, Guza Degiorgio, Melvin Theuma and George Degiorgio.

The recording consisted mainly of expletives. Theuma said that George Degiorgio was asking whether his lawyer called.

Another recording of a phone call between Melvin Theuma, Mario and George Degiorgio, was played. The conversation was about bail, that they would submit their bail application.

11:26 A recorded phone call between Alfred Degiorgio and Melvin Theuma from 14 March 2019 was played in the courtroom. The conversation was about the bail which they did not get.

Another recorded call from 1 October 2019 was played in the courtroom. Melvin could be heard saying ‘we’re insisting, we’re insisting’. Theuma clarified in court that he was referring to the accused’s bail. He added that he would insist with Yorgen Fenech that the Degiorgios were given bail.

11:19 We are still listening to recorded phone calls made by the Degiorgios from inside prison to their brother Mario Degiorgio and for which Melvin Theuma was present.

In this recorded phone call, Alfred Degiorgio asked Theuma ‘jista jsir xi haga’ with Theuma confirming in court that it was about the bail. Asked further, Theuma said that he would go to Fenech pressing that the Degiorgio brothers got bail.

11:04 The relevant recorded phone calls was played in the courtroom – a call between Alfred Degiorgio and Melvin Theuma.

The recording went something like this ‘kif ahna? U iwa?’, ‘Jien l-aqwa li smajt lehnek’ ‘orrajt siehbi’. Another recording was played when Melvin Theuma was with il-Gandhi and spoke to Alfred Degiorgio over the phone.

Arnaud asked to whom he refers when he said ‘ha nibda nirranga ma’ dan’ – Theuma replied ‘Mario Degiorgio’.

Another recorded call was played involving George Degiorgio, Mario Degiorgio and Melvin Theuma. Theuma told the court that he was certain that the call took place at Mario Degiorgio’s house. Theuma could be heard saying ‘ha nmur naghmel dak’ clarifying in court that he was referring to the visiting permit.

Another recorded call was played involving Alfred and Mario Degiorgio and Melvin Theuma. They were discussing the visiting permit.

Theuma told the court that once he bought a dog and two birds for Mario Degiorgio.

Another recorded call between Mario and George Degiorgio, and Melvin Theuma was played in the courtroom. In the recording, Theuma told the accused that he brought him ‘gbejniet’.

11:00 Theuma said that Fenech had accurate information about the investigation. He added, that he never believed him that Vincent Muscat had spilled out the beans.

Asked whether he had visited them in prison, he said that he wanted to go to visit Alfred Degiorgio in prison, however, he was scared. He reiterated that he would speak to the Degiorgios over the phone while at Mario Degiorgio’s house.

10:51 Theuma accompanied the police to where he had gone with Alfred Degiorgio. Theuma was shown a number of photos from when he accompanied the police to Bidnija.

Theuma said that Yorgen Fenech kept him updated, telling him that both of their phones were tapped. ‘Once Fenech told me off for speaking about the case over the phone,’ Theuma told the court.

Theuma had mentioned ‘betrayal’ over the phone in a conversation with someone. The call was not with Fenech, however, Fenech was informed. Theuma recalled Fenech telling him that to divert the attention, Fenech suggested that to Theuma to make a call and mention ‘betrayal – betrayal in the context of not allowing to operate with the second taxi in Portmaso’.

Theuma said that the call he had, he mentioned ‘betrayal’ in the context of fearing for his life.

‘I was never paid from anyone else, and sometimes I forked out money myself,’ Theuma said.

10:44 Alfred Degiorgio stood up to speak to his lawyer. Arnaud asked him about what he said under oath last week when Theuma said that Mario Degiorgio asked him for money to pay legal expenses.

Theuma has three receipts with him in court, one showing €50,000, €4,000 (18 March according to date on receipt) and €25,000 (21 May according to the date). He said that he kept these receipts behind a cooker in a Marsascala apartment. Theuma said that he received these receipts from Mario Degiorgio and kept them in safe place. He added that he did so, in case ‘Yorgen Fenech ta’ Tumas asked him where the money was going’. One of the receipt was dated in January 2018, with Theuma noting that he did not know Mario Degiorgio then. One of the receipts seems handwritten.

When Degiorgio asked him for more money, the money was given but no receipts were given. Theuma added that he did not ask him for a receipt, saying that Mario Degiorgio had previously given him receipts on his own initiative.

10:38 Melvin Theuma took the witness stand. Police Inspector Keith Arnaud asked Theuma whether he wanted to add more to his testimony.

Theuma explained that he started going to Mario Degiorgio’s house around March 2018. He would speak to the Degiorgio brothers over the phone. He explained that first he would give the money to il-lolly but then once he got to know Mario Degiorgio he would give him directly.

Theuma explained that he had told a person to give €15,000 to another person and then pass them to Mario Degiorgio. The money was needed for Anca Pop’s bail deposit.

10:31 A CID officer took the witness stand. He told the court that he received instructions from Arnaud to accompany Melvin Theuma along with another police officer to go to Bidnija where Theuma was meant to show them the route to Bidnija where he had met Alfred Degiorgio. Theuma had taken them to an area known as Ta’ Targa Battery, the officer explained.

The officer explained that the the trip was filmed. He told the court that Theuma had told him that Alfred Degiorgio had taken him to this area where Degiorgio would observe Caruana Galizia’s movements from afar.

10:29 Legal aid lawyer Mark Sant asked whether it is possible to ascertain that the inmate used the pin code assigned to them or someone else’s inmate. The official replied that ‘it is not meant to happen.’

10:25 A CCF official exhibited CDs containing the recordings of phone calls made by Alfred and George Degiorgio from prison. The envelope which was exhibited there is a CD and a document showing the details about the calls.

Each inmate is given a pin code which they would need to dial before calling from prison. Inmates are allowed to make outgoing calls from a phone which is in their division. Inmates can call from 8.15am to 11:50am and from 1pm-7pm, the CCF official who works in the control room explained.

10:18 Joseph Brincat, is-Suku, took the witness stand, he was at school with the three accused. Both George and Alfred Degiorgio smiled when he looked at them to identify them. Brincat works at Water Works and has a shop in Marsa.

He was asked about Pace, saying that he knew him – as he was from the same area and would come to his shop.

Asked about Theuma, he said he knew him ‘by-sight’. Asked about what happened after the three men were arrested, Brincat said that Pace came up to him saying that someone wanted to give €300 to the three men while in preventive custody. He said that it was sometimes €300 or €200. This happened some six times in 2018.

Brincat said that Mario Degiorgio would come for the money, he said he did not ask anything about the money or anything. He added that Mario Degiorgio would bring the receipt which he was saw that there was written ‘Corradino’ referring to the prison.

10:11 Pace eventually said that he was given €300 by Theuma to give to ‘is-Suku’. The money was given every 10 days. This happened five times, according to the witness.

Pace added that the probably the money went for the family of the three accused.

Arnaud asked whether he received anything from is-Suku to show Melvin Theuma that the money was given to is-Suku. Pace initially said ‘No, I’d give my word to Melvin that I gave him the money,’ then later he recalled once he received some receipts.

Arnaud asked what was written on the receipt. ‘Mhux isimhom,’ Pace replied.

‘For God’s sake what names were written down?’ Magistrate Stafrace Zammit asked. ‘Gorg, Freddy and Censu,’ he replied.

Pace said that he could not recall what else was written on the receipt. ‘I’d give to is-Suku, he’d give it to their family, I guess, because he knows their family better than myself,’ Pace said.

10:06 Lawrence Pace known as ‘il-lolly’ took the witness stand. He recognised the three men as Fredu, Gorg and Censu who he knew from Marsa.

Pace was asked what he knew about the three men in relation to the case. He replied ‘nothing, what I know is from the media.’

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud pressed Pace asking the relationship between Melvin Theuma and the three men and is-Suku.

Pace said that they would not discuss the accused. Magistrate Stafrace Zammit intervened saying that she could not understand anything from what the witness was saying, urging him to speak directly into the microphone and clearly.

10:00 A second witness took the stand, the person explained that once they received a call from Melvin Theuma saying that a person would be calling them and giving them €15,000. The person was instructed to take the money from the person and call another person and give them the money.

The witness worked with Theuma and knew him from Marsa horse races.

The person met with the person who had the money and then called up another person to give them money.

The witness said he did not open the bag. The witness said that they did not know the reason why they were giving them the money in the bag. The witness did not recall how the man looked like, saying that the other man arrived in a car but he did not remember his name.

‘I had called him from my then mobile phone,’ the witness said.

‘Was the number registered?’ Arnaud asked. ‘No,’ the witness replied.

09:52 Police Inspector Arnaud asked the witness what they know about the case in relation to Melvin Theuma. The witness was asked about another person. The second person would go to their mother’s shop to repair electronic devices.

The witness recalled that on July 2018, when they got a call from Melvin Theuma to give €15,000 to another person. The person did not ask why they were given such instructions. They met near Regina in Marsa.

09:45 Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit entered the courtroom. Lawyer Kathleen Grima asked the court for a ban on publishing the name since the witness is under investigation. She added that the witness should be informed that they have a right not to reply to any questions which might incriminate them.

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud said that the person is not being investigated in relation to Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

The request was accepted by the court. A ban on the publication of the name and any information which might identify the witness was ordered.

09:34 On the front bench, the three men who stand accused of detonating the bomb are seated; from left to right there is Alfred Degiorgio, George Degiorgio, two officials from CCF and Vincent Muscat.

Four CCF officials are standing around in the courtroom.

Legal aid lawyer Mark Sant who is appearing for Vincent Muscat is also in the courtroom.

09:29 Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra walked in, followed by Vincent Muscat.

09:28 Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio entered the courtroom escorted by officials from Corradino Correctional facility.

09:20 Daphne Caruana Galizia’s relatives are already in the courtroom, along with lawyer Jason Azzopardi who is appearing as parte civile.

Legal aid lawyer Josette Demicoli who is appearing for George Degiorgio is also in the courtroom.

Background

Self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma who was granted presidential pardon after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat decided on the matter and advised President George Vella, is set to continue testifying against the three men suspected to have detonated the bomb.

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, along with Vincent Muscat are charged with planting the bomb which killed journalist Daphne Caruana on 16 October 2017. The three men are awaiting their trial. They were arrested in December 2017.

On Wednesday, Theuma testified in separate proceedings against Yorgen Fenech who is suspected of being an accomplice in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

During the last sitting, Theuma said that Yorgen Fenech had asked him to find someone who would kill Daphne Caruana Galizia before she published information about his uncle Ray Theuma. It further transpired throughout Melvin Theuma’s testimony that the information was not about Fenech’s uncle but about Fenech himself. Theuma also told the court, that after Fenech told him about wanting to kill Caruana Galizia, he was called by OPM head of customer care Sandro Craus who gave him an appointment with then OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. Theuma subsequently got a phantom job.

Theuma also named Johann Cremona and a certain Kenneth from Castille. Kenneth promised him that the accused would be getting €1 million and bail, however, they got no money nor bail.

Theuma was 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.

Lawyers Matthew Brincat and Kathleen Grima were in the courtroom assisting Melvin Theuma.