The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Yorgen Fenech is the only mastermind in Caruana Galizia murder, Melvin Theuma insists

Thursday, 29 April 2021, 08:32 Last update: about 12 days ago

Self-confessed middleman in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Melvin Theuma, has insisted today that “only Yorgen Fenech” had masterminded the murder.

At a point in his three-hour-long testimony in the compilation of evidence against the “tal-Maksar” Agius brothers and their associates, Theuma said that “Chris Cardona and Keith Schembri were being mentioned by Yorgen Fenech and Johann Cremona and on TV” but swore that there was only one mastermind: Yorgen Fenech.


"I am under oath here. It was only Yorgen. He gave me the €150,000 to kill Daphne, no one else,” Theuma says.

Despite this, later on in his testimony, he claimed that "Chris Cardona engaged the Degiorgios to commit the murder," explaining that he had been told this by both Johann Cremona and Yorgen Fenech.

Theuma complained that his entire family was suffering because of “who he was”, adding that banks, insurance companies and other businesses did not want anything to do with them. When he was arrested, he complained that the police had seized all his devices and cash. "I didn't even have €10 to buy something for my son,” he said.

Despite the self-pity, Theuma was defiant, at one point shouting, “I am ready to suffer the consequences of my misdeeds!”

A selection of his covertly recorded conversations with Yorgen Fenech will be played in court on May 4.

Lawyers Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin are defence counsel to the Agius brothers. Lawyer William Cuschieri is appearing for George Degiorgio.

Lawyer George Camilleri is representing the Attorney General in the proceedings, while Superintendent Keith Arnaud and

Inspectors Shawn Pawney and Wayne Camilleri are prosecuting.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family, while lawyer Vince Galea is appearing for the Chircop family.

Muscat collaborated with the police and was also given a presidential pardon to tell all about the Chircop murder.

11:19 During the next sitting the court will play the recordings. The next sitting is 4th May.

11:18 Theuma's testimony is suspended.

11:17 The pen drives and mobile phones contained recordings of his conversations with Yorgen Fenech and others, Theuma says.

11:17 "I made a pact with Inspector Nicholas Vella that the box he was carrying be opened in his presence and that of the magistrate and the Commissioner of Police," Theuma says. He adds that his lawyer, Vella and Ian Abdilla were present when the box was open.

11:13 When Theuma was arrested he was carrying a box of three mobiles and other documents.

11:12 Theuma says that Yorgen Fenech had specified that they use Signal so as not to be traced by the Secret Service, he adds. Fenech had downloaded the app for Theuma, he says.

11:11 "Chris Cardona engaged the Degiorgio's to commit the murder", Theuma says explaining that he had been told this by both Johann Cremona and Yorgen Fenech.

11:09 ‘Il-buglee' was never mentioned again.

11:09 Arnaud asks him about a photograph of a man, known as ‘il-buglee' according to Theuma. "I told Yorgen to send it to me. He said 'what do you need it for? I said I needed it for something," he says.

11:06 Theuma rails against the fact that his family is suffering because of who he is. Banks, insurance companies and so on do not want "anything to do with" them.

11:05 Theuma says the sanction letter was bypassed after he had bought two flats from Yorgen Fenech's uncle, with Yorgen paying for them.

11:04 "They left me for last...I am ready to suffer the consequences of my bad actions!" shouts Theuma.

11:04 Theuma corrects his previous testimony: he says it was Yorgen Fenech who had informed him of his impending arrest, not Johann Cremona.

11:02 A hoarse Theuma barks angrily as he describes the perceived slights he received at the hands of the police, who had seized his devices and cash. "I didn't even have €10 to buy something for my son," he says.

11:01 Johann Cremona and Kenneth Camilleri would give him conflicting information about whether he would be arrested. HSBC closed his account. Theuma had a loan sanction letter withdrawn by the bank, he explains. He wasn't clear on why as he can't read and the letter was read out to him by Camilleri.

10:59 "I am under oath here. It was only Yorgen. He gave me the €150,000 to kill Daphne, no one else," Theuma says.

10:59 Theuma says that Chris Cardona and Keith Schembri were being mentioned by Yorgen Fenech and Johann Cremona and on TV but swore that the mastermind was one: Yorgen Fenech.

10:53 Theuma is now talking about how Yorgen Fenech wanted to open a jewellery shop for him.

10:52 "I recorded Cremona because he was Yorgen Fenech's postman," he says.

10:50 Theuma insists that Kenneth Cremona knew everything "from A to Z" about the murder, expect who provided the bomb. Theuma says he had recorded Cremona too.

10:49 Theuma's voice is failing again and he is directed to drink.

10:49 Yorgen Fenech would say "our power is money," Theuma says.

10:48 He said he was angry at Yorgen Fenech for not answering his calls.

10:48 Theuma swears he was on his way to speak to Arnaud so many times but would change his mind at the last minute.

10:46 Edgar Brincat known as ‘il Gojja' had told him that he would never leave prison because they wouldn't believe him and because Yorgen Fenech had power.

10:44 Theuma pauses to drink some water as his voice is failing.

10:43 "Yorgen would tell me that if we stuck together they could kiss our asses," Theuma says.

10:43 "Had it not been for three people I wouldn't have revealed anything: Yorgen fenech, Kenneth Cremona and Edgar Brincat, who told me that if I went to prison I would never leave it again," Theuma says.

10:41 Arnaud asks who knew he was recording Yorgen Fenech. Theuma says, the daughter of his partner. "Because she taught me how to make them," he says.

10:39 Theuma corrects his earlier testimony in other sittings: he could not have started recording Yorgen Fenech when Kohhu (Vince Muscat) started talking because he already had recordings of Fenech when he had spoken to Jason Azzopardi.

10:37 "He told me that I had problems because I was the mastermind of the murder of Caruana Galizia. I told him you're mistaken because the mastermind is Yorgen of Tumas," he says.

10:37 "The day after Johann And Kenneth came to talk to me I went to Johann's garage. Kenneth came too. He took out a paper with three numbers, one of them was his old number," Theuma says.

10:35 They were supposed to get bail on the 22nd of the month (Theuma doesn't recall which month) but "they got neither bail nor the million" he says.

10:34 Theuma says he had immediately gone to inform Mario Degiorgio, the accused men's brother.

10:33 He had been trying to arrange bail for the Degiorgio's and Muscat at the time. Theuma says that Johann Camilleri had told him that the men would get bail and be given €1 million each.

10:33 Arnaud asks the witness about summer 2018.

10:30 At the beginning Johann Cremona did not know about the murder, Theuma says.

10:30 Theuma says Johann Cremona had called him to his house with Kenneth Camilleri the same day of the phone call regarding Maksar.

10:28 Johann Cremona is Yorgen Fenech's business partner in Best Play, Theuma explains.

10:27 Theuma vehemently insists that he had no idea what the Maksar brothers involvement was.

10:27 "Either Yorgen or Cremona had called me to tell me that I was in the clear and that it was Maksar who were going to [be blamed for the murder]," Theuma says.

10:25 "I didn't even know the Maksar brothers and he was going to involve me in some other story," Theuma says. This exchange happened in 2018.

10:24 Theuma says Yorgen Fenech had sent him an SMS telling him to advise Maksar (Agius brothers) that Kohhu (Vince Muscat) was talking.

10:22 Theuma says he told them that he wanted to give details about the "big case."

10:22 Theuma says had contacted Jason Azopardi but he was abroad at the time, so he was directed to Karol Aquilina.

10:21 Theuma says he had spoken to Mario Degiorgio and informed him that Vince Muscat was talking. He was unable to contact the Degiorgio brothers in prison.

10:19 Theuma says he thought Yorgen Fenech wanted him in prison to save money.

10:18 "I was convinced that Keith Schembri was involved with Yorgen Fenech." Theuma says that Fenech wanted him in prison with Schembri's help. I always put them together (fl-istess keffa)"

10:17 Yorgen Fenech had called him to his villa in Zebbug and told him that Vince Muscat was talking to the police. "That's when the betrayal started," Theuma says.

10:15 "They never got bail," Theuma says.

10:15 Arnaud asks Theuma about Mario Degiorgio and the bail money.

09:58 The court has ordered a short recess.

09:57 "Yorgen had said that if they get bail, he would pay them" Theuma says.

09:56 Theuma recalls that he had become a friend of Mario Degiorgio and would send them money through him.

09:56 Theuma says he had gone to Yorgen Fenech to say that they needed €30,000 for the lawyers. He says Fenech had been expecting it.

09:53 "I got scared as they only knew me," Theuma says. He says Yorgen Fenech was aware of this and had even ignored Theuma's receipts for the money.

09:49 In 2019, when the arrests happened, Theuma had sent €300 via a certain "Lolly" of Hamrun to the three men, he says.

09:47 Theuma mentions that Yorgen Fenech had given him €5,000 to take a vacation and calm down. Theuma went to London with his family.

09:45 After the raid Theuma started taking pills and whisky, he says, He was convinced that Yorgen Fenech wanted to kill him to cover his tracks.

09:44 Theuma had told Alfred Deigorgio to meet at a cafe in Portomaso because he worked nearby but when he arrived he saw a car that he said was like those used by Criminal Investigation Department and was spooked. He later met him in Hamrun instead.

09:40 Later, Yorgen Fenech had told him that the Degiorgio's and Vince Muscat "had big problems" because the police were going to raid the potato shed.

09:38 After the murder Theuma had been consumed by fear and had gone to Portomaso to speak to Yorgen Fenech. Fenech had told him that the foreign police he was so scared of worked in the same way as the Maltese ones.

09:37 Later at Marsa Alfred Degiorgio had said "so many bullies have died, we won't kill this one?"

09:36 One Sunday Alfred Degiorgio had called him and lamented their bad luck as Caruana Galizia had stopped at Mosta.

09:31 Arnaud asks him about the vantage point overlooking Caruana Galizia's home where he had taken the murderers. "There was a concrete slab. From there the house was visible, very small in the distance."

09:29 Theuma says Alfred Degiorgio had given him a cheap mobile phone to communicate with the murderers.

09:27 Theuma says Fenech was pressuring him to carry out the murder as Caruana Galizia was going to reveal something big about him.

09:25 Alfred Degiorgio had told him that he would not involve Darren Debono 'it-Topo', but would only use his brother and Vincent Muscat also known as 'il-Kohhu.'

09:22 Theuma had put the plan in motion, meeting Alfred Degiorgio at Busy Bee and handed him the money.

09:22 On one occasion he had been taking Yorgen Fenech to the airport and before that, Fenech had given him a suitcase of money saying that was the money for the Degiorgios.

09:21 Five years before the murder, Theuma replies. "You needed permission from Mr. Fenech, God rest his soul. You couldn't just start working from there."

09:18 Arnaud asks the witness how long he had worked from Portomaso with his taxi.

09:17 Theuma says he paid €2,000 out of his own pocket not to lose face with Degiorgio.

09:16 "After the election was announced Yorgen told me to speak to Alfred Degiorgio and get him to stop everything for now." Theuma had replied that the plans were not set in stone and contacted Degiorgio telling him to hold off on the murder for now.

09:15 "Then I spoke to Yorgen and told him the price, including the bit about the deposit. He said he would get back to me. In the meantime the election was announced. I was a bookie and put €150,000 on Labour winning," Theuma says.

09:13 Theuma confirms that the Castille job meeting took place after the meeting at Busy Bee.

09:12 Arnaud brings Theuma back in time and asks him to confirm some details about his meetings with Fenech as well as the meeting at Busy Bee.

09:09 Theuma says he received a cheque four or five times.

09:09 He says he had a coffee with Schembri at Castille and took a photo with a picture of Mintoff. He was told that he now had a job with the government.

09:07 The witness sips water as he loses his voice again.

09:07 Later Yorgen had told Theuma to expect a call from Sandro Kraus. The call came while he was at Burger King with his son. "You are to meet Keith Schembri at Castille," Theuma says.

09:06 They agreed to meet at BusyBee. George said the price was €30,000 deposit and €120,000 after the murder. "If the job is cancelled the €30,000 are lost to you," George had said.

09:05 "I told George that there was someone who wanted to murder Caruana Galizia. He said ' imma jhallas dan?' I said 'kieku ma nigix'."

09:03 He continues: "Fenech came out of the Blue Elephant. He asked me if I knew George ic-Ciniz because he wanted to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia because she was going to pick on his uncle. I got George's number from Darren It-Topo."

09:02 He says he had a taxi at Portomaso, but as he begins the now familiar story of being approached by Yorgen Fenech, he loses his voice.

09:00 Theuma confirms that he can testify freely about what he knows about the murder.

08:59 "They arrested me in November 2019," begins Theuma. "I was arrested by Inspector Nicholas Vella. I told him that I wanted him to call Arnaud so I could speak with him. That's what he did. I went to the depot...I spoke to my lawyer and we asked for a Presidential Pardon. It was later granted."

08:58 Superintendent Keith Arnaud explains that Theuma will be asked about the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder and his pardon.

08:57 Melvin Theuma is administered the oath. His address is not declared by the witness for security reasons.

08:56 The witness steps off the stand. Next witness is Melvin Theuma.

08:56 "The keys to the cars what happened to them, the ones you had signed for?" he asks. "I never had any keys and never had a car," the witness said.

08:55 The prosecution recalls the witness to ask one last question.

08:54 The defence has no questions.

08:54 George Camilleri asks her about her RAV4's numberplate. She struggles to recall. "Believe me I don't know". The prosecution has finished its questioning.

08:53 She mentions two cars but says there could be more. At the moment she uses a Toyota RAV4 and the other vehicle is not being used. She was going to sell it but hadn't. It was in her husband's friend's garage in Mosta, she said.

08:52 Lawyers from both sides shout over each other as the defence attempts to derail the questioning.

08:51 "We had met him in husband and I were having a coffee," she said.

08:50 She knew the man sold cars but didn't know his name, she insisted under repeated questioning by the Attorney General lawyer.

08:49 Lawyer George Camilleri from the Attorney General office asks her how often she had done this. She said it was only the one time.

08:48 The transfer took place "maybe a year, year and a half ago" she said.

08:47 He was a friend of her husband John Bugeja and she did so out of respect to him.

08:47 "One day a man came and asked me if he could put the car on my name and I said yes." The witness doesn't know the man's name and did not recognise him in the courtroom.

08:46 She was told that the car was registered in her name, she said. "I don't know who used it. I don't even know what sort of car it was."

08:45 Drugs were found in the car, she said. The court asks if the witness needs to be administered a caution that she could incriminate herself. The prosecution say that it is not required as no steps were going to be taken against her.

08:43 A witness is now summoned: Josephine Bugeja. Inspector Wayne Camilleri asks her about her questioning with the police.

08:42 The magistrate appoints an expert to transcribe a number of audiovisual statements.

08:42 The court is dealing with the note of renvoi filed by the Attorney genera. These notes regulate the evidence being presented before the court.

08:38 Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo enters the courtroom. We are in session.

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