Keith Schembri discussed his resignation with Gafa’

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

This afternoon ex-OPM Official Neville Gafa and OPM Official Nigel Vella testified in the public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Highlights from today’s court hearing;

  • Neville Gafa’ says he never discussed 17 Black with Keith Schembri
  • Gafa’ says Schembri was worried when he lost his phone
  • According to Gafa’s testimony Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri are good friends and he has known Joseph Muscat for 35 years
  • Gafa’ mentiones how the OPM has issued him a diplomatic passport
  • Neville Gafa’ also says he never took photos of Daphne Caruana Galizia
  • OPM Official Nigel Vella said he did not know the people who had locked journalists inside Castille
  • Vella was warned many times by the inquiry board to answer questions
  • MP Glenn Bedingfield to testify on Friday 21st February
16:52 This blog ends here. We will soon update this blog with the highlights from today's court hearing. Thank you for following.
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16:41 The board of inquiry and the lawyers are discussing who will testify in the next court hearing.
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16:40 The next court hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9 am. MP Glenn Bedingfield is expected to testify.
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16:35 Gafa says that Keith Schembri never mentioned to him on the alleged Chris Cardona's involvement in Daphne's assassination.

With Keith Schembri, he used to review all media reports every morning, it was part of his job says Gafa.
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16:32 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi says he is not believing Gafa's testimony when he says he did not discuss Camilleri's involvement in Daphne's assassination.

Gafa mentioned how Kenneth Camillieri had changed when allegations concerning him emerged.
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16:29 Gafa says he met Kenneth Camilleri in November and December 2019.

Says he did not ask Kenneth Camilleri about his involvement in Daphne's murder and he did not meet Melvin Theuma.

Whenever they used to go abroad, Camilleri never used to be armed, says Gafa.
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16:25 Gafa says how Keith Schembri was worried when he lost his mobile phone. Then says that Schembri did not tell him he refused to give details regarding his mobile phone.
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16:21 He explained that when they knew where the boats were located they had informed Libyan authorities.
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16:19 He says that thanks to his intervention in Libya, thousands of illegal immigrants were stopped from entering Malta. He said it was not a push back.
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16:16 There were times when he was asked to remove certain posts on Daphne Caruana Galizia.
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16:16 He also says that Gafa used to meet people with the then Gozo Minister Anton Refalo.
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16:15 Gafa says his contract was terminated by Fearne without being given any reason.
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16:14 Gafa says he used to work in Gwardamangia and upon his request went to work in Gozo upon approval of Minister Chris Fearne.
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16:13 Lawyer Jason Azzopardi starts questioning Neville Gafa.
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16:12 He then mentioned how he used to go for walks with Keith Schembri and that he had discussed Schembri's resignations with Schembri himself.
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16:10 Gafa says he had shared blogs from the Truth Project and the shares were in 2018.
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16:03 He says he never compared Daphne's funeral to Carnival.
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16:01 Gafa says that he once saw Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta. He had uploaded a photo of her on that day but it was not him who took the photo.

Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia asks Gafa if he thinks he is to be believed.

Gafa replies, yes because he is under oath.
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15:58 Neville Gafa says that Muscat's security officials fall under the secret services.
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15:56 He mentions that due to what Daphne had written about him in her blog, his father had suffered from a stroke, 3 years ago. And says that his children did not report to work because of what Daphne used to write about him.
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15:54 Neville Gafa says he knew Daphne Caruana Galizia prior to his involvement in politics. Says he assisted her when shopping from a shop in Valletta.
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15:54 He says he does not know why people used to send him photos of Daphne.
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15:51 Gafa says he never discussed 17 Black with Keith Schembri. He also says that Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri are good friends. But he never saw them at each other's house.
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15:49 The inquiry board asks Gafa if, when Daphne was killed, there were people who cheered for the news. Gafa says he did not see any celebrations and that he only saw people getting worried.
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15:48 He confirms to have uploaded a photo of Daphne Caruana Galizia before she was murdered. Gafa says he received it from people who were in Floriana.
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15:47 He says he never attended briefings on Daphne's assassination.
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15:45 He confirms he had a diplomatic passport issued by the Office of the Prime Minister and that he only used it once for a visit to Libya.

Gafa says he never travelled with Keith Schembri and he never met Schembri outside of Malta.

Neville Gafa says he has known Joseph Muscat for 35 years.
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15:44 Gafa says he used to work at the Ministry for Gozo.
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15:41 Neville Gafa says there are pending libel suits against Caruana Galizia and that there are no criminal cases against him.
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15:39 Neville Gafa says that writing sometimes is worse than photos. He presented to court photos of him that Daphne had uploaded and says e once published her mobile phone number on Facebook.
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15:38 He says he does not remember why he used to repeatedly upload photos of Daphne. Then says there were hundreds of accounts which used to do the same.
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15:37 Gafa says he never took photos of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
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15:36 Neville Gafa mentioned how Daphne had published a photo on her blog of him and his family. Says Caruana Galizia took the photo from his social media account.
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15:35 Says that one of his accounts on Facebook was hacked in the past.
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15:35 He then mentions how he is also friends with Kenneth Camilleri who was part of Joseph Muscat's security team.
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15:34 Gafa says Adrian Vella is his doctor and he confirms is the same Adrian Vella, Keith Schembri's doctor.
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15:32 Gafa says he has been friends with Keith Schembri since 2008. They had started working together during the labour party leadership campaign of 2008.
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15:31 The board asks Gafa what he means when saying employed as Projects coordinator. Gafa says that Muscat used to receive a lot of e-mails and he used to assist Muscat on those e-mails related to the health sector.
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15:27 Gafa says he was always employed on the basis of 'Person of Trust'. He was also employed as a Projects Coordinator with the former Prime Minister. His office was on the 2nd floor at Castille. The same floor of Muscat's office.
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15:26 Gafa says he is currently unemployed. In 2013 he was the Projects Director of FMS and had started working at OPM. Then was assigned to work with the Health Ministry.
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15:22 Gafa asks to take the oath on the Qoran.
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15:22 Neville Gafa' is summoned to take the stand.
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15:19 Corinne Vella says that Gafa used to upload photos of her sister Daphne without any test accompanying the photo. She asked why would a person upload a photo of another person, with whom she or he has no sort of relation.
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15:17 Corinne Vella says she found two Facebook accounts belonging to Neville Gafa and also a Facebook page titled Gafa'.
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15:16 Sister of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Corinne Vella, presents the court a supplementary document which included screenshots from Neville Gafa's social media.
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15:12 Nigel Vella ends his testimony. He exits the courtroom and is accompanied by Lawyer Charlon Gouder.
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15:10 He confirms he had written a blog for the Labour Party media while employed within the Office of the Prime Minister.
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15:10 Vella says Keith Schembri was the campaign manager of the election.
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15:08 Nigel Vella says he also had an office at the Labour Party headquarters and used to open his office with a code and not everyone had access to the 4th floor at the PL headquarters.
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15:06 Lawyer Comodini Cachia asks Vella if they used to take minutes during meetings with Ministers. He replies that he used to take notes to include them in press releases.
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14:59 Therese Comodini Cachia asks Vella about a photo of him and Keith Schembri.
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14:58 The board thinks that Vella knows who are the people in the photo.
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14:57 Vella replies that he did not do anything as it was not his duty.
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14:56 The board asks Vella what was his reaction and what did he do when he saw those people, who he says he does not know, inside Castille.
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14:54 The members on the inquiry board say they are finding it hard to believe that anyone who works at Castille and in the Office of former Prime Minister, Muscat, does not know who were the people keeping journalists locked inside Castille.
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14:52 Nigel Vella says he does not know who they are. The inquiry board warns Vella, again, that he is under oath and would be best if he tells the truth.
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14:51 He says that the men seen in the photo did not cause him any harm. The inquiry board then asks him to identify the people in the photo.
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14:50 The board takes note of Vella's arrogance.
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14:48 Vella is being accused of contradicting himself.
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14:47 Lawyer Comodini Cachia mentions to Vella how a report by the Commissioner for Public Standards concluded that Joseph Muscat, former Prime Minister, was guilty of breaching the Minister's code of ethics.
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14:45 Vella is asked if they always sent press calls to all newsrooms. Vella neither says yes nor no.
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14:43 Vella will be asked to identify the people in the photo.
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14:42 Nigel Vella will be shown a photo of when journalists were kept locked inside Castille. The incident happened in November 2019.
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14:41 The board is not tolerating Vella's attitude.
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14:40 The board asks if journalists could exit the room or not. Nigel Vella does not reply.
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14:38 He then says there were no journalists who were kept locked inside Castille. Vella says they followed a normal procedure.
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14:38 Vella is not answering the board's questions and is demanding Vella to answer to the questions.
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14:37 The board starts asking the Vella about the incident at Castille when journalists were kept locked inside.
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14:36 The inquiry gives the 2nd warning to Vella – that he is testifying under oath.
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14:34 The board asks Vella what used to be discussed and Vella replies that they never used to discuss. The board is unimpressed with Vella's replies.
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14:34 The inquiry board continues pressing Vella.
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14:32 The board replies that what he is referring to is an assassination and not a happening.
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14:31 In one of his replies, Nigel Vella describes the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia as a "happening".
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14:30 The board then asks Vella how is it possible he never discussed anything about 17 Black with his colleagues.
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14:29 He explains that all the information he knows about 17 Black is from media reports.
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14:28 The board asks Vella if he ever talked to Keith Schembri on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Vella says, no.
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14:26 The inquiry board warns Nigel Vella to tell the truth as he is under oath. The board says he is contradicting himself as the members of the board have evidence that shows Vella shared items from these two blogs. Vella denies.
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14:25 Regarding the blog 'Taste Your Own Medicine', Vella also says he got to know about it recently through the media.
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14:24 He replies that he got to know about it, this week from the media reports.
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14:23 The inquiry board asks Vella about the ' Truth Project'.
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14:22 Vella says that to his knowledge there were no attempts to link Daphne's murder to fuel smuggling. He was never consulted on the matter, says Nigel Vella.
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14:21 Vella mentions how there were times when he met with newspaper editors.
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14:20 He says he cannot recount how many times he goes to the 2nd floor at Castille.
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14:19 Nigel Vella says he works on the 3rf floor at Castille and that he never saw Yorgen Fenech in Castille. He says he knew who he was through the media.
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14:18 Vella says he was not involved in the organisation of the press conference at Castille on the day Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered.
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14:17 He says his work entails publishing information, press statements after being given the go-ahead by Matthew Carbone.
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14:15 Nigel Vella says he currently works as Deputy Head of Government Communications. Between 2013 and 2017 he worked within the communications team of the Labour Party.
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14:12 OPM Official Nigel Vella takes the stand to testify.
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14:10 Dr Victoria Buttigieg is also present. Dr Buttigieg is the State Advocate.
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14:08 Around 25 people are present inside the courtroom; including lawyers, journalists and members of Daphne's Caruana Galizia's family.
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13:57 Good afternoon and welcome, Newsbook.com.mt is reporting live from Court.
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