The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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Middleman in Daphne murder says Yorgen Fenech 'worst person in the world'

Rebekah Cilia Thursday, 12 December 2019, 09:28 Last update: about 5 years ago

The middleman who has been granted immunity in exchange of information related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia continued to testify today in the case against the three men accused of the assassination.

Melvin Theuma started his testimony last week in the compilation of evidence against Alfred Degiorgio, George Degiorgio and Vince Muscat. The case is being heard by Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit.

Last week, Theuma testified about the way he contacted Alfred Degiorgio to carry out the murder after being given the go-ahead by Yorgen Fenech. 

Theuma is also testifying in the case against Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of organising the murder.

William Cuschieri is representing George and Alfred Degiorgio. Josette Demicoli is also representing George Degiorgio. Police inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting.

Kathleen Grima and Matthew Brincat are assisting Melvin Theuma. Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family. Marc Sant is legal aid to Muscat.


Follow minute-by-minute proceedings as they happened below

1.20pm: The case is adjourned.

1.18pm: "A month before I was arrested, I knew that I was going to be arrested. I was informed by Johann Cremona," Theuma says.

1.12pm: When it was reported that Daphne's laptop was to be brought from Germany to Malta, Melvin said he had asked Yorgen if this was good or bad news. Yorgen had told him it was good because she wrote about a lot of people and that there would be a lot of information about many people. This would work in their favour.

1.08pm: Azzopardi asked Melvin how he knew Keith lives in Mellieha. Melvin said he knew because Yorgen told him. Yorgen had told Melvin where Keith lives before the case. 

1.04pm: Kenneth Camilleri told Theuma that Degiorgios would get bail on 22 December at one million each. Melvin asked Kenneth if he could tell the Degiorgios about this and he told Mario (Degiorgio). "Yorgen told me that he would not carry the responsibility of guaranteeing bail for the Degiorgio's or even the €1 million each because he didn't order it. Then who did?" Theuma says, adding that he assumed Camilleri was sent by former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

1pm: Theuma said he met Kenneth about three or four times, one of which was at Johann Cremona’s garage. Kenneth showed Melvin a paper with melvin's old number and told him Melvin was the mastermind behind the murder. Melvin had replied that Yorgen was the mastermind. That day Melvin said he thought Kenneth had been sent by Keith Schembri, but he could not take this on oath as it was just an assumption.

12.58pm: Theuma said Yorgen told him that the bomb was manufactured by Maskar. Melvin said he knew that Kenneth used to work at Castille and in the traffic section.

12.56pm: Azzopardi tells the court that 400,000 euros in cash were elevated from Theuma's house when the police searched it. Theuma confirmed it and said he kept the money for betting purposes.

12.52pm: Theuma said he never heard anything about Keith Schembri getting money from the Electrogas contract. He said Yorgen Fenech wasn’t very generous because "I had to pay for the Degiorgios" when they were taken to prison.

12.50pm: Azzopardi then read the letter Melvin wrote and which was published in the media. Theuma said that he had mentioned Keith Schembri in it only to scare him and Yorgen Fenech. Schembri had never mentioned Daphne to him (Theuma). For me Yorgen is the mastermind, Theuma said. "I would have recorded Keith if he spoke to me on this matter so I would have more strength," Theuma said.

12.44pm: There was one fight between Yorgen and Melvin - in 2018 - at the Ranch in Zebbug. Yorgen had told Theuma that Vince Muscat il-Kohhu was talking. Melvin had told Yorgen: "what did Kohhu have to say - he doesn’t know me". Melvin said they fought because he didn’t understand why Yorgen would get him into this - "I thought we were friends," Theuma said. Melvin said that he did not know who told Yorgen that Kohhu was talking. "Yorgen used to get help from Keith Schembri - Yorgen told me this", Theuma said. From that day Melvin said he started recording Yorgen.

12.41pm: Two days after the arrest of the three suspects Melvin made a will, which was registered on 7 December. Melvin said he was scared that Yorgen would kill him but admits that Yorgen never threatened him

12.39pm: Melvin said he was in a taxi at Portomaso and Yorgen called him to say there were problems ahead because a raid is going to happen on 5 December. Theuma said Yorgen told him to tell the Degiorgios. This was four days before the raid happened (and it was the wrong date, because it occurred on the 4th).

12.37pm: Melvin said he believes that the information Yorgen was getting was coming from Keith Schembri but he cannot say it under oath because it is just his conclusion and he (Melvin) never asked Yorgen about it

12.34pm: Referring to Melvin's testimony when he said yorgen had told him the FBI would not work like the local police, Azzopardi asked him how did Yorgen know this. Melvin replied he did not know and did not ask. But Yorgen tried to put his mind at rest.

12.31pm: Theuma said he was in a meeting with Yorgen when Melvin went to meet him at Portomaso.

12.30pm: “Yorgen told me to talk to Alfred Degiorgio to let him know that the bomb should kill Caruana Galizia and not end up like the one that didn’t kill Romeo Bone,” Theuma tells the court.

12.28pm: Theuma said Yorgen was making a lot of pressure on him for the killing to take place because info would come out. When Yorgen told Melvin not to go ahead with the killing (as soon as the election date was announced) Melvin did not ask Fenech why the rush for the killing had gone now and if the information would still come out. The election results were out on Sunday and Melvin understood without any doubt that when Yorgen said go ahead (under drink) he knew Yorgen was referring to the killing. Yorgen told Melvin to use WhatsApp or signal - Melvin said he does not know why Yorgen to do this - probably not to be tapped.

12.23pm: Melvin said Tony Muscat must have had some information about who he was. Theuma was told that his job was not going to change, and that he did not need to punch in at work. Theuma said he did not know what the job was going to be. The monthly pay was around 850 euros and he received cheques monthly. The second cheque took long to come and so Melvin called Yorgen to tell him this. Yorgen told him the cheque will arrive soon. Melvin said he did not ask Yorgen how he knew the cheque would arrive. In August 2017, four months after being given the job, Melvin was sacked.

12.18pm: Melvin said that he is speaking under oath and he is bound to say the truth because of the immunity he was offered. When Melvin was in Keith Schembri's office Sandro Craus was present too because he took a photo of the two together.  Melvin does not remember who told Craus to take the photo but it could have been him or Keith. Craus told Melvin to go to the ministry in front of the theatre. Melvin went to ministry for the interview which took about 5 mins. Melvin said he never applied for a job and said he met with Tony Muscat.

12.11pm: Replying to other questions, Theuma said Sandro Craus called him about the job in the evening, at about 7pm. Melvin said it did not occur to him to ask Craus why the call was being made so late, but thought it had maybe happened because the election was close. Melvin said that there is huge friendship between Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri. Melvin said he never communicated with Keith Schembri via WhatsApp and Signal. He said that he was so embarrassed to go to Castille that he called Yorgen to ask him where he had to go. Yorgen told him to go through the front door. Azzopardi informed Melvin the main door is reserved for PM and ministers. When Melvin when through the main door he told the soldier manning it that he had a meeting. Melvin said he doesn’t remember if the solider made a call or if Keith Schembri was waiting half way down the stairs for him. 

12.10pm: Melvin said he met Keith Schembri at the Ranch and that he had been introduced to him by Yorgen Fenech. Melvin said that he does not know if Keith Schembri was present at any other meals at the Ranch.

12.08pm: Melvin said Yorgen used to take him abroad and they were very good friends. Melvin then explained how he got Alfreds Degiorgio's number from Darren Debono it-Topo and how he met Alfred Degiorgio.

12.06pm: Azzopardi asked Theuma whether he knew that Daphne Caruana Galizia was a mother. The question was not allowed by the court.

12.04pm: Azzopardi asks Theuma to say for how long has he known Fenech, to which Theuma replies "for many years" through horse-racing. Melvin says no one ever asked him to kill anyone. "Yorgen is the worst person in the world because a friend doesn’t do this to you," Theuma says.

12.01pm: Lawyers representing the Caruana Galizia are asking questions to Melvin Theuma. Jason Azzopardi says that in one of the recordings there is a mention of ix-Xih. Is this in reference to the Prime Minister, Azzopardi askes, to which Theuma replies "yes". This was in reference to the fact that Yorgen Fenech said he would approach the PM if necessary.

12pm: Sitting continues

11.42am: The sitting is temporarily suspended.

11.41am: Inspector Arnaud tells the court that he has no more questions. 

11.37am: In other calls, George Degiorgio is heard being angry that he did not get bail.

11.30pm: In another call between Alfred and Melvin, they speak about bail and the fact that the accused didn’t get it. In yet another call, Melvin tells Alfred that he is insisting with Yorgen about the bail.

11.22pm: Other calls between the Degiorgios and Theuma are heard by the court. In one of them Alfred is heard saying - "I think something can be done about that", with Melvin explaining to the court it was about the bail money. In another, Alfred asked Melvin to think about him in relation to money.

11.16am: The court listens to another call in which Melvin speaking about a permit to go to prison to visit the Degiorgios.

11.12am: Another call, on the 3rd of May, is being heard by the court. Melvin is heard saying on the call to Alfred "I am going to do that". Melvin clarified to the court that “that” refers to a prison permit. The call was made to Mario's home and two birds can be heard in the background.

11.06am: When Melvin was at Mario Degiorgio’s house they would call the Degiorgios in prison and say hello. The court is now listening to the telephone calls. Inspector Arnaud said there are several calls but the court is listening to particular segments which Arnaud wants Melvin to clarify - the first is on 22 March 2018 - 9.46am, between Alfred and Melvin. Melvin is heard asking Alfred if he is ok. Melvin says on the phone call that he will sort it out with Mario. When asked in court by Arnaud, Melvin then clarifies that he was referring to the money he was giving to Mario.

11.03am: Theuma says that Yorgen sent him (Melvin) to pass on a message to Mario Degiorgio to tell his two brothers, accused of the murder, that the third accused, Vince Muscat, was talking. There were no other instructions from Yorgen.

11.01am: Yorgen still kept on giving money to Melvin for Mario Degiorgio, Theuma says, adding that he never got any money but actually had paid out of his pocket at times. The money for the accused was always given by Melvin to keep them happy, he tells the court.

10.57am: Melvin gave some papers to Inspector Arnaud showing photos of messages that Yorgen sent him. The photos were taken by Melvin. Melvin said that Yorgen Fenech had information that Melvin's phone was being tapped. Melvin had used the word “tradiment” (betrayal) in a mobile phone conversation (not with Yorgen although he did not remember who it was ) and Yorgen mentioned this word. Theuma had used the word betrayal in reference to Yorgen because he was scared that he would kill  him or he would end up in prison. "Liked he killed Daphne Caruana Galizia he could kill me" Theuma told the court. Yorgen told him to make a call explaining that "betrayal" was intended to mean that Yorgen had not allowed him to have a second taxi at Portomaso. "He (Yorgen) once even told me that the issue of the (Muscat's) pardon was being put to cabinet." 

10.54am: Two weeks ago Melvin showed the police the route to Bidnija and where the lookout point overlooking the Caruana Galizia house was, as was shown to Melvin by Alfred Degiorgio. Melvin was shown the document made by the CID officer presented earlier and cnfirmed the locations and photos.

10.49am: Melvin has some papers that are receipts given to him by Mario Degiorgio confirming that the money given to Mario by Melvin had been exchanged. There was one receipt that was given to Melvin that had been exchanged before he knew Mario. Arnaud asked why he had it and Melvin replied that Mario Degiorgio had given them to him all together. Mario later stopped giving Melvin receipts but Melvin did not ask for any.

10.43am: Melvin said he only met Anca once. Mario Degiorgio had called Melvin to tell him that he needed 15k for Anca, George’s partner. Melvin said he had 15k to pass on, and he gave them to a woman to pass on to another intermediary before it arrived at the Degiorgios. Melvin said he was abroad at the time, that’s why he sent the woman.

10.40am: Melvin Theuma is led inside the courtroom. Theuma says that when he met Mario Degiorgio he used to speak to the Degiorgios, while they were in prison, on the phone to say hello. The money to the Degiorgios used to be passed through il-Lolly but then he got to know Mario Degiorgio and he started passing the money directly to him. This was March 2018. Melvin also used to give food to Mario for the Degiorgios.

10.34am: A member of the CID, Sandro Mamo, is testifying. He said Inspector Arnaud told him to go to Bidnija with Melvin Theuma, who showed them the lookout point overlooking the house where Daphne Caruana Galizia used to live. The CID officer said the lookout point is far away from house and one can only see car movements. He presented a document of the route Melvin showed him, the one Melvin had taken with one of the accused, Alfred Degiorgio, as well as the lookout point. The route taken by the officers when they went with Melvin was filmed and was presented to the court.

10.26am: A representative from the prison control room, Clint Zahra, is to testify. He presented a list of telephone calls that were made by the Degiorgios as requested by police. They were presented on a CD together with a document of the call-logs. The witness explains the procedures of how inmates make telephone calls. They can only make outgoing calls, and cannot receive any. The calls are made from 815am to 1150 and from 1300 till 1900. The calls are identified through a pin code which is given to each inmate. Legal aid Marc Sant is asking witness if pin code can be used by someone else. Witness replied that although it is possible, it is not allowed. The CDs include recordings (audio) of all the calls listed in the document.

10.20am: Joseph Brincat is-Sukku takes the stand. Brincat knows Pace because they are from the same area and knows Melvin Theuma because they both like horse-racing. Brincat said he would pass the money to the accused; it happened about six times; sometimes every week sometimes every fortnight. Sometimes it would be 200 sometimes 300, the witness says. Receipts were exchanged, and the witness said he would just look at the amount written.

10.10am: Another witness, Lawrence Pace il-Lolly, is testifying that he knows Melvin from horse-racing. Melvin gave him 300 euros on five occasions and told him to pass them on to the Degiorgio family, via a Joseph Brincat is-Sukku. This took place in early 2018. They used to meet at a shop in Marsa.He used to be at this shop all the time and every 10 days Melvin would give him 300 to pass on to the Degiorgios. Melvin would ask him if he had passed the money and he (the witness) used to confirm that he had passed it on. Melvin used to trust him. Receipts were exchanged with the accused's names and the amount of money (100 for each accused).

10.02am: The man who was given money by the previous witness is now testifying. He says he works with Melvin Theuma and he knows him in relation to horse racing. He has known him for about 5 years. Melvin told him that he is going to send a girl to give him some money, which he had to give to someone else.  He didn’t open the bag with the cash and he doesn’t know the man he went to meet to give the money. The man came to meet him in a car. He gave the bag with money to this man. He did not know the reason why this money was being given to this man. Melvin never told him. He didn’t speak to the man he gave the money to. Melvin gave him the name, but he doesn't remember it. But he knows he identified him when he met him by his name. Asked what number he called him from and if it was registered, he said it was not.

9.58am: The witness says Melvin called her and asked her to meet with someone. She met him near Regina auto dealer in the evening and gave him money, 15k. She didn’t know what the money, in cash, was for. She gave him the money and left. She told him: "I have 15k to give to you from Melvin".

9.55am: She is saying she knows nothing about the case expect what is being said in the media

9.53am: The witness is not being investigated in relation to the murder. But any questions that her lawyer feels could incriminate her if she answers them, then she will not.

9.49am: Prosecution is asking for a witness to be heard. The magistrate concedes that the name of the witness is not made public.

9.45am: Magistrate Stafrace Zammit walks in.

9.31am: Daphne's husband Peter, two of her sons and her sisters are in the courtroom too. Police inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra have arrived, as did the third accused, Vince Muscat.

9.30am: The degiorgio brothers, two of the accused, are taken inside the courtroom.

9.28am: Daphne's parents Michael and Rose Marie Vella walk into the courtroom.

9.20am: The courtroom is filling up. Some lawyers involved in the case are already inside.

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