Silvio Valletta met Yorgen Fenech in 2016; watched another match with him

Silvio Valletta
FILE PHOTO: Police Assistant Commissioner Silvio Valletta addresses a news conference about investigations into the assassination of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, at police headquarters in Floriana, Malta, October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta watched the Champions League final with Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in May 2018.

Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt Valletta said that he got to know Fenech in 2016 during a meal.

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi, who also represents the Caruana Galizia family, asked on Facebook how the then Deputy Police Commissioner Valletta had travelled to Kyiv in 2018 and whether he made use of Fenech’s private jet. Azzopardi pointed out that, by that date, the CID, headed by Valletta himself, knew that Fenech was a person of interest in a murder investigation.

Details about the trip with Fenech were confirmed to the Times of Malta on Tuesday morning, after the post by Azzopardi. Valletta also confirmed the details to Newsbook.com.mt. It transpired that Valletta had travelled to watch Real Madrid play against Liverpool in the May 2018 final in Kyiv. Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt, the former Deputy Police Commissioner said that he had paid for his flights himself, clarifying that this was done around the time of the trip.

On Sunday, it was reported that Valletta and Fenech had travelled to London to watch a football match at Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge stadium on the 29th September 2018.

“I met him in 2016

Asked by Newsbook.com.mt, who had introduced him to Yorgen Fenech and when, Valletta said that they were both at a meal back in 2016. Asked if they had remained friends since that time, Valletta replied “yes”. He was also asked to describe his friendship with Fenech, to which he replied “in what sense?” He then added that would not meet frequently but were “friends” [ħbieb u…].

Valletta said he could not recall the details about the meal or whether it was a birthday or a party-related activity. He added that he could not remember certain details due to the current turmoil.

The former Deputy Police Commissioner said that he was not aware that Fenech was a person of interest in the case. “I wasn’t aware of what he was involved in,” Valletta told Newsbook.com.mt. He added that in June 2018 he had left the murder investigation.

The former Deputy Police Commissioner was ordered off the investigation after the family of the slain journalist filed a constitutional court case, accusing Valletta of conflict of interest in the murder investigation because of his marriage to then-Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana and his role on the FIAU board. Judge Silvio Meli had upheld their request and ordered Valletta off the investigation. He then had suspended himself from the investigation during appeal procedures. The Court of Appeal had confirmed the decision in a ruling which said that Valletta must desist from the investigation. It declared that his presence had breached a fundamental right of the journalist’s family.

November 2018

Valletta told Newsbook.com.mt that he worked last as a Deputy Police Commissioner in November 2018. He explained that it was two weeks after it was made known that 17 Black belonged to Fenech.

“Two weeks later, I left the police force,” Valletta explained.

When asked to clarify the reason behind his resignation, the former Deputy Police Commissioner said that he had done his 25 years of service and that was his only reason why he stepped down. He added that since then, he stopped attending to Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) meetings. He made reference to other public statements by himself and reiterated that the FIAU board is not privy to details of an investigation.

Valletta was replaced by Dr Martin Sammut in a notice dated 29th July and published in the 30th July 2019 Government Gazette.

‘What they had done to her’

Valletta was asked whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder investigation was ever discussed with Fenech before getting to know about Fenech’s involvement. He told this newsroom that they would discuss reports in the press.

“I don’t think we spoke so much about the media reports. He never asked me questions about the case,” Valletta said. ‘We would say what had been done to her…” [X’għamlulha jew hekk] he added.

Valletta under investigation

On Tuesday afternoon, the police confirmed that the former Deputy Police Commissioner is under investigation and has been called in for questioning.