Cardona’s number on alleged assassin’s phone – Theuma


Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

During the sitting on Thursday morning, self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma confirmed that on on of the mobile phones retrieved from the seabed during the raid which led to the arrest of the three alleged hitmen, one of the mobile phones retrieved only had Chris Cardona’s number saved on it.

One of the secret recordings made by Theuma was played in open court during court proceedings against Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

Electrogas director is charged with being an accomplice in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Theuma was granted presidential pardon in return for evidence.

Highlights from Thursday’s sitting:

  • Cardona’s number was the only one found save on a burner phone retrieved during the police raid which led to the arrest of the three hitmen
  • Former Minister Chris Cardona, Minister Owen Bonnici, former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (ix-Xiħ), then Police Officer Silvio Valletta and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia were mentioned in the recording
  • The Court gave Melvin Theuma a stern warning while testifying reminding him that the pardon was on condition that he tells the whole truth
  • More mistakes were found in the transcript
  • Keith Schembri knew about Fenech’s involvement back to the time when suspected hitman Vince Muscat started confessing to the police in 2018
  • From the recordings it transpired that Theuma thought that Vince Muscat spilling the beans was a set up

Magistrate Rachel Montebello presided over the case.

Police Inspector Keith Arnaud led the prosecution.

Lawyers Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran appeared for the accused.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia appeared for the family.

Live Blog

13:36 The court reserved the right to decree the bail request on the next sitting. It was adjourned to 20 February.

In the next sitting, more recordings will be heard.
Monique Agius
13:31 Before leaving, Theuma glanced at Fenech.
Monique Agius
13:29 Arnaud had no more questions for Theuma.
Monique Agius
13:26 Arnaud continued with the examination of the witness to clarify some points in the testimony.

'In all the recordings that you have, was Fenech ever aware that you were recording him?' Arnaud asked the witness.

'No, never.' Theuma replied.
Monique Agius
13:21 Dr Azzopardi asked whether he could recognize the shaved head man had given a lift to Keith Schembri.

Theuma was shown three photos and said that it was not the man in the photo.

Dr Azzopardi asked him to explain what was the conversation between the witness and Fenech where Cardona was mentioned and something that could bring the government down.

Theuma: I remember Fenech had told that they [the police] had found some mobile after the arrest in the potato shed, in the sea, and it had only one number on it, that of [Chris] Cardona.

Dr Azzopardi reserved his cross-examination.
Monique Agius
13:06 After the recording was stopped, Dr Azzopardi asked the witness to fill in the blanks.

Theuma confirmed that Yorgen Fenech had told him, that it was 'Keith Schembri was telling him told him that he did nothing wrong'.

Dr Azzopardi: 'Taf kemm hawn Malta warajha din: 4,000 ruħ. 3,000 ta' indannati hawn warajha. Lanqas Delia bil-familja' Who was Yorgen Fenech referring to?

Theuma: He was referring to Adrian Delia, the Leader of the Opposition and these protests of these people that come out to protest in Valletta. The ones I saw on TV.

Azzopardi asked the witness to clarify. Theuma said that it was only 3,000 people who supported Daphne Caruana Galizia, the rest, were against her.

'She was abandoned,' Theuma told the court.
Monique Agius
13:03 Court was back in session. Another segment of the recording was played out in court.
Monique Agius
12:53 A five minute break was given.
Monique Agius
12:46 Azzopardi referred to the witness to another page where 'Tyson' was mentioned.

Azzopardi asked Theuma who was Tyson. The witness said that it was the butcher who was shot that.

In the recordings, Fenech was heard saying that they had asked for €10,000 and he gave them a discount and took €8,000 instead.

Theuma said that Fenech did not tell him how he got to know.

Vince Muscat when he started spilling the beans, spoke about different homicides, including Tyson's murder.

Theuma said that Keith Schembri had told Fenech what Muscat told the police. Vince Muscat was to reveal information about seven homicide cases. Theuma added that Muscat would not speak up about the HSBC heist, 'għax hemm il-kbarat'.
Monique Agius
12:42 Azzopardi read some more from the transcript which mentioned a presidential pardon, and someone who was referred to as 'don't forget the other man's story 'tal-pirmli, tad-droga għax dan naqa iblah'.

Theuma said that he did not remember.

The court pressed the witness to explain why one would pressure on 'dak ta' Ħaż-Żebbuġ' and whether was it before or after Caruana Galizia's murder.

Theuma kept repeating that it was about the bomb being manufactured in Żebbuġ. This was when Vince Muscat was spilling the beans.
Monique Agius
12:40 Theuma said he didn't know who told Fenech they were panicked.

Theuma: "hmmm I think me."

Fenech gestured.

Theuma: "hmmm I don't know."

Azzopardi asked why one would put pressure on tal-Maksar. Theuma said because it was where the bomb was manufactured.
Monique Agius
12:33 Theuma clarified that the '3' in the conversation referred to the three court cases Schembri had.

Dr Azzopardi asked what was meant by 'il bieraħ ħassejt li biex iċaqqalqu lil Joseph'

The magistrate intervened and asked: 'so you could remember the reference to '3' but you can't remember this? Who is Joseph? What is the context?'

Theuma protested that he could not recall.

Theuma was asked about a package left in a car. He said he could not remember. 'I never left packages in cars.'
Monique Agius
12:29 Azzopardi: 'Dak tal-Peugeot ta' xaghru mqaxxra', what exactly what are you referring to?

Theuma: When we were at Fenech's ranch. Schembri was dropped off by a man with a shaved head who was driving a Peugeot.

The man driving the Peugeot was not Kenneth Camilleri, Theuma clarified.

The man with the shaved head was described as a man who could not even do his shoe laces up.
Monique Agius
12:26 There were more issues with the transcript. The recording could not be heard clearly in this hall.

The information was coming from Keith to Fenech, about what this Owen said about the pardon.
Monique Agius
12:20 Azzopard: 'he kept calling me' who is Fenech referring to?

Theuma: he's referring to Keith

Azzopardi: but Keith was the right hand man of the prime minister. He is a busy person. Can you explain further?

Theuma: Keith Schembri to help us. To help me because Vince Muscat was revealing everything.

Azzopardi: Bear with me. You need to explain slowly. Keith Schembri was to help you? or Fenech?

Theuma: If I'm exposed, then Fenech would be exposed. We wanted Keith Schembri to help us because of Vince Muscat.

The relevant part of the recording was played again in court.
Monique Agius
12:19 Meanwhile the accused left the dock and went sitting between his defence counsel. They're looking at the transcript.
Monique Agius
12:15 The court pointed out that in some instances the witness seemed to recall clearly the excerpt from the conversation while in other instances he could not recall and would simply say 'I don't know' or 'I don't recall'.

The court warned the witness.

'You are not here to tell us you don't know in some parts. Please go back to the recordings and remember. You are here to say the truth. Remember the conditions of your pardon,' Magistrate Montebello told the witness in a stern warning.
Monique Agius
12:09 Azzopardi read out: 'He messaged me at 3am' who is it referring to?

Theuma: I don't know

Azzopardi read out :'I'm calling Valletta to see?' who is saying this?

Theuma: Mr Valletta, the policeman

Azzopardi: 'even I am afraid' who is saying this?

Theuma: Yorgen

Azzopardi: 'jew marru jaghmlu xi kumidja. Ghollewlu lill-mara' who saying this and what is it referring to?

Theuma: I didn't ask him

Magistrate: so he was telling you a story, and you didn't ask what it is about?

Theuma: no

The court reads out from the transcript. Theuma was evasive, he said he could not remember or recall what Fenech was referring to.

Fenech let out an audible 'uwejja?!'
Monique Agius
12:07 In another part of the conversation where Yorgen Fenech told him 'I told him I don't know…' who was Fenech referring to, Azzopardi asked.

Theuma said that Fenech was referring to Keith Schembri.
Monique Agius
12:04 Dr Azzopardi asked how did Yorgen Fenech get to know that Theuma was recording him.

The witness said that Johann Cremona had told him.

'I am friends of both of you, but Melvin recorded you,' Johann had told Fenech these words, Theuma recalled.

Fenech knew that his conversations were recorded by the witness.

Theuma admitted when he was confronted by Fenech.
Monique Agius
11:59 'Issa kif jafu, l-Gvern se jippanikja' was read out from the transcript.

The situation is this; Dr Azzopardi reads out a sentence from a page and asked the witness about the context and who is referring to whom.

Asked about a statement, "I will not let you suffer," Theuma explained that it was Fenech telling him.
Monique Agius
11:57 Dr Marion Camilleri objected to the fact that this conversation was being sliced up and inspected piecemeal. 'Is the witness remembering? He doesn't even know when he had this conversation! We know the gist of the conversation,' Camilleri told the court.

The court said that the witness' credibility could be attacked at the cross-examination stage.
Monique Agius
11:51 Fenech had called Theuma to come to his ranch in Żebbuġ to tell him that Vince Muscat was speaking up about the case to the police.

Dr Azzopardi read out from the transcript, 'yes, I told you these want €30,000', and asked what he referred to.

Theuma said that it was the initial deposit.

Dr Azzopardi asked what Fenech meant when he said 'il-gvern se jippannikja?'

Theuma said I did not reply.

The court asked the parties to refer to an earlier conversation where it was 'aħna nippannikjaw, aħna nippanikjaw, aħna mhux inti'.

Fenech burst out laughing.

The court asked whether the 'we' if Fenech was referring to himself and someone else.
Monique Agius
11:47 Dr Azzopardi asked the witness to clarify who was saying what in the transcription.

Dr Azzopardi read 'minbarra minn hekk, dik kienet kollox maħdumha tal-Koħħu'. Azzopardi asked the witness to clarify. Theuma said that he did not believe Koħħu was ratting out on him because Vince Muscat did not know him.

'I never spoke to Vince il-Koħħu,' Theuma told the court.
Monique Agius
11:44 Dr Azzopardi: Why did Yorgen Fenech tell you that he was going to Las Vegas?

Theuma: For sure he was not speaking to me. He was on the phone with someone else.

Dr Azzopardi: who is asking 'does Johann know about the story?' and who is replying 'not from my end?

Theuma: Fenech was asking. It is about Daphne Caruana Galizia. Kenneth and Johann had come to me. Kenneth had shown me three numbers, and said I was the 'mastermind'.

Theuma then pointed it that this was not a question but it was a declaration by Fenech saying that Johann knew about the murder.
Monique Agius
11:36 Arnaud referred to page 13 from the transcript where Arnaud, Owen, Cardona were mentioned in a long conversation with Fenech.

Theuma said that the person speaking was Fenech.

'Dan ħa jgħidlu le Cardona,' Arnaud read it out from the transcript.

Theuma started blankly at the transcript.

Theuma then said it was about the Cabinet meeting when Vince Muscat's request for pardon was discussed. Fenech had told him that ix-Xiħ [Joseph Muscat] had said ‘jekk mhux mija fil-mija jien mhu ha naghmel xejn’ referring to Vince Muscat's request for pardon.

A man with a luggage bag was also mentioned, and Theuma explained that Fenech had told him that the man with the luggage bag was Vince Muscat description of Theuma to the police.

'I don't want to put the blame on Owen or anyone else, in fact there isn't Owen Bonnici, there's just Owen,' Theuma said.
Monique Agius
11:33 Arnaud: Did Yorgen get back to you about this issue with Keith?

Theuma: He always told me no, that he [Schembri] could not do anything about the bail. He told me that he could not even fix his own issues. In fact, he went to speak to him [Keith Schembri] several times, according to what Yorgen had told me.

Fenech started laughing.
Monique Agius
11:31 'Le, le jien dik ta' Keith nixtieq issa tirranġa,'

'I was referring to when Keith sent Kenneth about the bail issue, when I said "no, no, I want you to fix that thing of Keith"' Theuma explained in a reply to a question by Arnaud.

Arnaud: What difference did it make to you?
Theuma: I felt that my problems would be over if they're given bail. I don't have to go back and forth asking for money, the fear, that's what I felt.
Monique Agius
11:29 'After the first €30,000, the second time they asked me for €30,000. Mario told me George needed another €30,000 and offered me a Rolex with diamonds and gold bracelets. I had gone to Yorgen and had given me the money without taking the gold,' Theuma told the court.
Monique Agius
11:24 The questioning began.

Arnaud asked about the recordings. Theuma pointed out that he could not hear properly and in the other courtroom he was more comfortable.

Asked about the date of the conversation, he said he did not know. Pressed further for a year, he said [ftit wara meta beda jikxef il-Koħħu] 'some time after il-Koħħu started spilling the beans.'

'We talked about Degiorgio's bail and there was that of il-Koħħu revealing what he knew about the murder,' Theuma said. 'I said its not true. I never believed that Koħħu would rat me out as I never spoke to him,' Theuma told the court.
Monique Agius
11:23 When the recording, came to an end, Dr Azzopardi pointed out inconsistencies in the transcription where person A was most of the times Yorgen Fenech while person B was Theuma.
Monique Agius
11:21 Ix-xiħ could be heard.

"All they want is to get out, that's all… What are we going to do?,” he says.

At one point Theuma raised his voice and is heard asking Fenech, 'tell me what to tell them?'

Adrian Delia was also mentioned in the recordings.
Monique Agius
11:19 While the Magistrate and lawyers had their eyes peeled on the transcripts, sometimes Fenech smiled, or gestured at the defence counsel.
Monique Agius
11:09 Without transcripts to follow, it is impossible to understand whatever is being said in the recordings, apart from some random phrases and words here and there.

The foul language though, is perfectly audible.
Monique Agius
11:04 It's very difficult to make out what is being said in the recordings.
Monique Agius
11:03 Dr William Cuschieri who appears for one of the alleged hitmen is present in the courtroom. He's seated at the back following the proceedings.
Monique Agius
10:58 'I was left betrayed,' Melvin Theuma could be heard saying.
'And me?' Fenech replied.
'Not you,' Theuma said

Theuma was then heard saying, 'I'm with you, am not with those.'

'Il-Keith', 'il-Keith', can be heard through out.

'Word by word and it arrived to Keith,' Theuma told Fenech.
[Kelma, kelma, u wasslitlu lil Keith]
Monique Agius
10:55 We're back to listening to the recordings.

'What they're saying about Vince Muscat [giving information] isn't true. If Keith [Schembri] sends Kenneth again, I'll tell you what I'll do,' Theuma can be heard saying in the recording.

Fenech told Theuma:
'Eq. How do they know who is collecting money from the black people?'

Theuma told the court that he was not hearing the recordings clearly. Neither the press can.
Monique Agius
10:52 'This must be done again,' the court said about the transcript.

The recordings were played in court. Magistrate Montebello said that the recordings will be played just the same since the witness can still identify who is speaking and questioned about the conversation.
Monique Agius
10:51 At the suggestion of Dr Azzopardi, a second person is appointed to double check the transcriber's work.
Monique Agius
10:47 What is being said about Koħħu is not true, [Tal-koħħu mhux vera qed ngħidlek jien] Theuma can be heard saying.

'If Keith [Schembri] sends Kenneth again, I'll tell you what to do [inaudible],' Theuma was heard saying in the recording.

[Jew jiġi Keith jibgħat lil Kenneth, ngħidlek jien x'tagħmel]
Monique Agius
10:46 'Koħħu' which is the nickname of one of the three men who are charged with the crime, was heard in the recording.
Monique Agius
10:42 Arnaud asked the court to take note of the timestamp where the conversation was heard.

The conversation was inaudible until Dr Azzopardi asked for the volume to be raised.

Melvin Theuma identified the voices as Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech.

The acoustics in the courtroom are poor.
Monique Agius
10:40 The court confirmed that the proceedings will continue in this format, with the recordings being played out in court and the witness being cross-examined.

The court asked for the recording to be fast-forwarded to where conversations could be heard.
Monique Agius
10:38 The first recording was played in court.

What could be heard was 'Hello? hello? Ma nistax.'

Dr Camilleri raised the defence counsel concern. The witness was giving his interpretation of the recordings. She said that the in his previous testimony conflicted with what was in the recordings.
Monique Agius
10:35 Police Inspector Arnaud said that the first recording to be played is no. 7.

Melvin Theuma who was the go in between Fenech and the three hitmen, took the witness stand.
Monique Agius
10:34 The court assigned numbers to the transcripts which were presented by the registrar who was in charge with the transcription.
Monique Agius
10:30 Magistrate Montebello returned to the courtroom. The registrar took the witness stand and presented transcripts of Theuma's secret recordings which had to be corrected.
Monique Agius
10:29 Magistrate Montebello left the courtroom until the registrar who made the transcripts of the recordings arrives.
Monique Agius
10:25 Magistrate Rachel Montebello ordered that today the new transcripts of the recorded phone calls be exhibited.

The accused's statements are to be produced in the next sitting by the prosecution.
Monique Agius
10:24 Magistrate Rachel Montebello entered the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:20 During the last sitting, the first few recordings were played in open court. Here's what emerged:

– Melvin Theuma said that Fenech told Keith Schembri about the murder

– Theuma says Fenech told him when Joseph Muscat knew about all of this he was infuriated.

– Muscat was mentioned once in conversations between Theuma and Fenech
– Theuma says there were instances when Schembri called Fenech in his presence
– Melvin Theuma says Fenech told him how Schembri asked Judge Mizzi for information because of ‘ix-xiħ’ – referring to Joseph Muscat

– Theuma confirms that Yorgen Fenech went to a party at the Palace in Girgenti
Monique Agius
10:12 Theuma's lawyer Matthew Brincat is also present in the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:06 Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech was already in the dock when the journalists and relatives were allowed in. Theuma was spotted in the corridor. One of the members of the public went up to Fenech and shook his hand.
Monique Agius
09:55 Welcome to this live blog from another sitting in the compilation of evidence in the proceedings against Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. We're reporting live from courtroom 22.
Monique Agius