The Malta Independent 7 December 2019, Saturday

Updated- Photos of middleman with Schembri in Castille, says Fenech's lawyer

Neil Camilleri and Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 29 November 2019, 14:56 Last update: about 6 days ago

There are photos of Keith Schembri and Melvin Theuma taken at Castille, one of the defence lawyers for 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech claimed on Friday.

Fenech, who is being questioned in connection with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, has filed for a warrant of prohibitory injunction, requesting that inspector Keith Arnaud be taken off the investigation. Fenech claims that Arnaud had been passing on information about the investigation to Schembri. Keith Arnaud is the lead investigator on the murder. He is working the case with Inspector Kurt Zahra.

Before Madame Justice Miriam Hayman, defence lawyers Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran argued that their client could not be assured a fair trial if one of the investigators was linked to Keith Schembri.

The defence was not saying that the investigation should stop, as has been claimed, but that Inspector Arnaud should stop being a part of the investigation.

Fenech, clean shaven and wearing a grey suit, sat calmly and listened attentively as his lawyers told the court that he had been approached while in custody at a time when they were not present. "The inspector told him to be responsible when naming certain people."

Yorgen Fenech exiting the court building with lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran


They insisted that they had asked the police to provide recordings and CCTV footage, but no such evidence had been supplied to them.

The Attorney General's office, represented by Assistant AG Philip Galea Farrugia and lawyer Victoria Buttigieg, said these claims were not proven. They argued that it was up to the defence to bring forward proof to substantiate their claims.

Marion Camilleri said the request is not to stop the investigation. "God forbid that the investigation into such a serious crime stops. What we are asking for is the removal of Inspector Arnaud from the investigation team. Justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done," she told the court. Keeping the inspector on the investigation team would lead to irremediable prejudice against Fenech, she said. The defence lawyers said the investigation can be carried on by Inspector Zahra.

Camilleri said a request was sent to the Police Commissioner on Thursday, asking him to remove Arnaud from the investigation. That request was denied.

Later in the day, Inspector Arnaud had tried to continue questioning Fenech, but the lawyers stopped him from doing so.

She also referred to claims that the inspector's wife had been given a government job, allegedly after Arnaud spoke with Keith Schembri.

The AG's office said there was nothing to indicate that the claims being made by Fenech's lawyers took place. They explained that, if Fenech feels that he has been arbitrarily arrested, he can challenge his arrest before the magistrate's court of during his arraignment.

The Assistant AG said the defence lawyers had never complained about Inspector Arnaud. It was only after the presidential pardon request was rejected that they wanted him out of the investigation.

"Arnaud has been there from day one, he is the lead investigator in the case and, with all respect towards Inspector Kurt Zahra, it is Arnaud who knows this case inside out," Galea Farrugia said.

As for the government job claim, the AG's office argued that the inspector's wife had applied for the post and went through the normal recruitment process.

Police Commissioner Laurence Cutajar arrives in court


Replying, Marion Camilleri says the defence is not saying that the arrest is arbitrary. "We went to the police HQ every time we were called. We are also not expecting to choose who should investigate the case. We are saying that the Inspector, with his links, should not be taking part in this case."

Gianluca Caruana Curran then told the court that Schembri had been released without charge despite the evidence appearing to link him to the case. "This is a disgrace," he said.

"There are tapes and recordings which mention Keith Schembri, a photo of him hugging Melvin Theuma at Castille, and a letter mentioning Keith Schembri as the person who paid him and who commissioned him."

At one point, the judge asked both parties to approach the bench as they discussed whether the case should continue being heard in open court. Everyone in the courtroom was then asked to leave. After a few minutes, the court adjourned the case to Monday.

Sources explained that the police investigation can continue, but Inspector Arnaud cannot be involved for the time being. 

Defence lawyers back in Court this afternoon

Fenech's lawyers were back in Court at about 6pm, this afternoon, to launch a complaint about his bail conditions. They argued that he had been arrested and subsequently released several times this week, whilst the law requires an effective release period.

The presiding judge called for Fenech to go back to the courtroom, however, the lawyers subsequently dropped the complaint, as they said it would be too dangerous for Fenech to go back to Court, due to protests taking place in Valletta tonight. 

Photos: Domenic Aquilina

 

 


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