The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

‘In this email, I see Yorgen Fenech calling my mother a liar’ – Matthew Caruana Galizia

Thursday, 12 August 2021, 10:04 Last update: about 10 months ago

Matthew Caruana Galizia showered Keith Arnaud, the main investigator in his mother’s murder, with praise when testifying in court on Thursday.

“For me Keith Arnaud is a hero,” Caruana Galizia said under cross-examination by the lawyers of the man accused of masterminding his mother’s murder.

Yorgen Fenech stands accused of commissioning the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a powerful car bomb outside her house on 16 October 2017.

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Caruana Galizia was being cross-examined by lawyer Charles Mercieca, who along with Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri is appearing for Fenech.

Asked whether he trusted Superintendent Keith Arnaud, who is the lead investigator on the case, with the notes and devices belonging to his mother, the witness described the police officer as “a hero”. 

However, when pushed by the defence as to whether the notebook containing his mother’s notes had been given to the police, Matthew replied in the negative.

“Things of no relevance were not and will not be handed to the police,” he replied, adding that “our aim was to help with the investigation to the best of our ability”.

Asked specifically whether Yorgen Fenech’s name appeared on the notes, Matthew said no.

The questioning focussed also on a document that Caruana Galizia family compiled for the police in 2018 based on information taken from Daphne’s notes.

In the document, Matthew had highlighted 75 main subjects of interest for the murder and told the court that Fenech was the most important on the list.

Matthew Caruana Galizia had first testified in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech last month. Caruana Galizia had said that no sensitive documents were saved to Daphne Caruana Galizia's devices and used his technical expertise to help his mother handle the large volume of data received when investigating Electrogas.

The defence asked about the leak of a cache of emails from Electrogas, which ended up in Daphne’s hands before the 2017 general election.

“When my mother first made contact with the source, files were shown and then the source starting passing the data through emails. This was in the beginning of 2017, between January and March 2017,” he testified.

Matthew reiterated that the data was received digitally and stored on an external hard drive. Matthew also confirmed under questioning that he was the one who took over the communication with the source and he used his own computer for the purpose. This was done because his mother was not tech-savvy.

The defence kept insisting that it was not possible to download data directly onto a hard drive without first storing it on a computer. But the witness said it was possible and that is what had happened.

Several questions put to the witness by the defence were deemed irrelevant by the court and overruled, including those where the lawyer appeared to be fishing for Daphne’s sources.

Matthew’s cross-examination by Fenech’s defence will now continue on 20 September.

Background

The evidence against Fenech primarily rests on the testimony of Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman between the business magnate and the three men who carried out the assassination. Theuma had secretly recorded various conversations between himself, Fenech and others, and was given a presidential pardon to tell all in 2019.

Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017, just after leaving her house in Bidnija. A bomb placed inside her car was detonated remotely by an SMS.

 

One man, Vince Muscat, pleaded guilty to the murder in February this year and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a plea bargain agreement.

Courtroom players

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding.

Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspector Kurt Zahra are prosecuting, aided by Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia.

Fenech's defence lawyers are Marion Camilleri, Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.

14:18 That's it for today. Thank you for following. 

14:18 Yorgen Fenech hugs his family members before being escorted out of the courtroom to be taken back to the Corradino Correctional Facility.

14:17 The defence would also like to call Melvin Theuma for cross-examination in the next session as well. The court says Theuma will be cross-examined on 30 September at 10am.

14:15 Magistrate Montebello had given the defence a time limit until 2:15pm and as the time is almost over, the court can postpone the cross-examination. The case is adjourned to the 20 September at 10am.

 

14:08 Mercieca asks whether Yorgen Fenech's name was written on these notes and Matthew Caruana Galizia says no.

14:03 Matthew Caruana Galizia says that he does not know what else was on the notebook. "Our aim was to help with the investigation to the best of our ability."

14:00 The defence asks whether Matthew Caruana Galizia was present when the notes by Daphne were written. He replies that he wasn't.

13:58 "Things of no relevance were and will not be handed to the police," the witness adds.

13:58 Mercieca asks whether the notebook had been given to the police. Matthew Caruana Galizia replies in the negative.

13:56 Magistrate Montebello is quite upset about the way the defence is asking questions and warns Mercieca not to proceed in this line.

13:56 Mercieca asks the witness whether he trusted Keith Arnaud with these notes and the devices. Matthew Caruana Galizia states that "for me, Keith Arnaud is a hero".

13:49 When asked by Mercieca whether Daphne Caruana Galizia was investigating lawyer Jason Azzopardi with reference to the transfer of land at Fekruna in St Paul's Bay (this had been the subject of a National Audit Office investigation), Matthew Caruana Galizia replies in the negative. Azzopardi smiles at this inference.

13:48 Daphne Caruana Galizia lawyer Antonio Ghio is also mentioned in this notebook.

13:46 The witness says these notes refer to a to do list and these are not people that his mother was investigating.

13:45 A certain T. Fenech and his emails, and also Jason Azzopardi, are mentioned in these notes but when asked by Mercieca about these references, Matthew Caruana Galizia states that he is not aware of what they refer to exactly.

13:43 Mercieca makes reference to a document that was provided by Matthew Caruana Galizia during his previous testimony. He asks the witness to read part of it. Matthew confirms that these are notes by his mother.

13:39 She adds that questions which are subject to interpretation should be avoided by the defense counsel.

13:36 Magistrate Montebello states that the interpretation is not up to the witness.

13:35 Matthew: "In this email, I see Yorgen Fenech calling my mother a liar."

13:35 Matthew Caruana Galizia reiterates that he considers the communication by Yorgen Fenech as disparaging towards his mother but the defence disagrees and states that the word ‘hogwash' was never directed towards her.

13:34 Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi stands up in protest about the question and states that the son of a murdered victim should not go through such an ordeal. Magistrate Montebello cautions Azzopardi once again that he will be sent out of the hall if this action repeats itself.

13:33 The email is finally retrieved and Matthew Caruana Galizia reads it out. The ‘hogwash' was a reference to the allegations, Mercieca says, insisting this does not mean that Fenech called Daphne Caruana Galizia a liar.

13:31 Magistrate Montebello provides Matthew Caruana Galizia with some documents. The witness states that an email refers to the reporting banks that were financing Electrogas. Mercieca argues that these are not the emails that he was referencing earlier. The magistrate asks the witness to clarify what Yorgen Fenech stated about Daphne Caruana Galizia. Matthew insists that 'hogwash' was used by Fenech in an email.

13:23 We are waiting for Magistrate Montebello to retrieve the email in question. In the meantime, Mercieca is consulting with his client, Yorgen Fenech. They are looking over some documents.

13:15 The defence insist that there is a difference between threatening comments and calling someone a liar.

13:15 The witness recalls an email where Yorgen Fenech called Daphne Caruana Galizia's reporting ‘hogwash'. This email was already exhibited and Magistrate Montebello is retrieving it.

13:13 Matthew Caruana Galizia insists that calling his mother a liar is insulting. He says that he had no access to Yorgen Fenech's emails but in the cache of data received, there were no threats.

13:12 The magistrate asks the witness to clarify whether there was any email from Yorgen Fenech in which he spoke disparagingly about Daphne Caruana Galizia. Matthew states that emails calling Daphne's reporting lies were found. But Mercieca wants to know whether any emails were threatening to Daphne in any way.

13:10 Matthew Caruana Galizia discloses that an Electrogas shareholder had emailed Yorgen Fenech, asking him what he had done to upset Daphne Caruana Galizia.

13:10 Mercieca asks Matthew whether Yorgen Fenech ever wrote an email about, or threatening Daphne Caruana Galizia.

13:09 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca asks Matthew Caruana Galizia about the number of people who knew about the Electrogas leak investigation. "It was three at a minimum and I might have disclosed to my father that we were working on an investigation related to Electrogas," he replies.

13:06 Mercieca says it is important to know the number of people who knew about the investigation. Matthew Caruana Galizia is called back to the stand.

13:06 Both Keith Arnaud and Jason Azzopardi argue against this line of questioning, which might uncover the source. The witness is once again asked to go out of the courtroom until this line of questioning is clarified.

13:04 Mercieca asks again about the device and Matthew confirms that it was a phone or an iPad. "It might have been WhatsApp but I'm not sure," he says.

13:04 The lawyer asks about where the data was stored initially by Daphne. Matthew Caruana Galizia states that he does not know but remembers that his mother showed him information on her phone at the early stages of the investigation.

13:03 Mercieca asks about the date when Daphne Caruana Galizia was first contacted by the source. Matthew Caruana Galizia says that this was before the election.

13:02 Caruana Galizia says that he works with many hard drives and it is possible that data was copied onto different hard drives. He confirms, however that a specific hard drive was bought for the Electrogas leak.

13:02 Matthew Caruana Galizia seems to have contradicted himself and states that he mistook the season when he bought the hard drive. Yorgen Fenech and the defence laugh it off.

13:01 The witness insists that he did not hide it. The defence keep asking questions on the hard drive and when this was bought.

12:48 Mercieca: "Why would you hide your mother's laptop then?"

12:48 Matthew Caruana Galizia lectures Mercieca on how the data could be directly downloaded on an external hard drive and never stored on the computer after the defence lawyer insists this is not possible.

12:44 Mercieca is still not satisfied with the answer and wants to know about where the data was initially downloaded. Matthew confirms that he was the one who took over the communication with the source and he used his own computer. He explains this was done because his mother was not tech-savvy.

12:40 Responding to a question by the defence, Matthew reiterates that the data was received digitally and stored on an external hard drive.

12:39 Matthew says that his mother showed him some of this data.

12:39 Matthew Caruana Galizia: "When my mother first made contact with the source, files were shown and then the source starting passing the data through emails. This was in the beginning of 2017, between January and March 2017."

12:38 Mercieca argues once again that the parte civile is advising the witness and a heated exchange between Azzopardi and Mercieca follows. Azzopardi insists they did not advise the witness and Mercieca rebuts, "they heard you from Tel Aviv". Azzopardi jumps up in protest but is cautioned by the magistrate.

12:36 The magistrate asks whether the data was received through an email and Matthew confirms they were received as an email file.

12:34 Matthew Caruana Galizia protests that this line of questioning indicates the defence is after the source. Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia nod in agreement.

12:29 Mercieca asks the witness where the data was stored. He confirms it was stored on an external hard drive but Mercieca clarifies that he wants to know where the data was initially received.

12:27 Caruana Galizia: "It was digitally received but I cannot add more so that the source is protected."

12:27 Mercieca: "How was your mother receiving this data?"

12:26 Mercieca insists that the defence has a right to put questions.

12:26 Mercieca says the data leak is a criminal act. The lawyer insists on putting the same questions and Arnaud protests loudly about this. Mercieca changes the question to whether Yorgen Fenech was mentioned in the Electrogas leak but the question not permitted as well.

12:25 Mercieca claims that Matthew Caruana Galizia is being helped by lawyer Jason Azzopardi. The magistrate says this is not permissible although it is impossible to observe all action in court.

12:24 The magistrate asks the witness not to answer. The reason being that the witness is testifying in the counter examination and the court does not see any relevance in the question.


12:23 Mercieca: "Did you or did you not give the keywords to the source who stole information from Electrogas, thus causing the leak?"

12:22 Matthew Caruana Galizia says that he was working on the material. Mercieca asks whether the witness had provided the keys to the whistleblower to help with the leak. Arnaud protests at the line of questioning. Mercieca says that the defence are not after the name of the source.

12:22 Mercieca asks whether Matthew Caruana Galizia was working on the documents from the Electrogas leak, or whether he was working with those who leaked the documents.

12:20 Matthew Caruana Galizia is back on the witness stand. The magistrate asks him whether other journalists were involved in the investigations his mother was carrying out. The witness confirms that a journalist from the Australian Financial Review and journalists from the Times of Malta were working with his mother.

12:19 The Deputy AG says that it is most important that the line of questioning is exerted cautiously. Mercieca clarifies that he is after whether any investigations that Daphne Caruana Galizia was working on could lead to the murder. The magistrate tells Mercieca that the question was understood to mean that the defence was after the name of journalists that were working with Daphne. Arnaud argues that it is only right for the defence to ask whether there were other people but the names should not be disclosed.

12:09 The witness is stopped by the magistrate and asked to go outside the courtroom. The magistrate is seeking a clarification from the defence and the media is asked not to report the conversation.

12:08 Mercieca asks about other people that Daphne Caruana Galizia was working with. The lawyer clarifies that he is not after the sources but possible investigators related to any investigations.

12:06 Mercieca asks whether the information from the letter the family had written was passed on to the police financial crimes unit but the witness cannot recall.

12:06 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca asks whether, apart from the 26 investigations, other relevant information on possible motives was discovered and whether this was provided to the police. Matthew Caruana Galizia says that he has testified and reported about crimes.

12:05 Matthew says that when things of interest popped up after the murder, they requested meetings with the police. The family, he adds, was worried during that time.

12:04 Mercieca says that the boat investigation is not on the document.

12:03 Mercieca asks the witness whether he worked on all 26 investigations with his mother. Matthew says no, since not all were relevant to him. He confirms that he worked on others that were relevant.

12:02 Matthew Caruana Galizia says that the knowledge that he has is from his mother's work. He might have exchanged information with her but Daphne never asked him to do any work on these investigations.

12:02 Konrad Mizzi, Paul Apap Bologna, Brian Tonna are some of the names on the list. Mercieca insists that some of the individuals are family friends.

12:01 Mercieca asks whether some of the people mentioned in the letter are family friends of the Caruana Galizia family. Matthew Caruana Galzia says that he has no idea.

12:00 Mercieca asks whether Matthew Caruana Galizia highlighted 75 main subjects of interest for the murder in the document. The witness says he can't recall but trusts that the number is correct. He says that Yorgen Fenech was the most important on the list.

11:51 Matthew: "It was very difficult for me to go over what I was working on with my mother, it took me very long to prepare this document. When we felt that we couldn't do any more, the letter was sent. There was no way to put down everything in the letter. It was impossible to resuscitate her memory."

11:50 The defence lawyer wants a yes or no answer and is getting agitated on it. Mercieca is claiming that the letter names the Electrogas as a probable motive for the murder.

11:45 The defence shows the witness a letter signed by his father, Peter. This letter is from a meeting on 18 June 2018 with the investigators into the murder for which Matthew confirms he was present. Charles Mercieca notes that during the meeting, Matthew had stated that his mother was working on 26 cases.

11:43 Matthew says that he only knows about the most significant ones.

11:43 The defence is now back into the hall and Mercieca is speaking to Yorgen Fenech. The magistrate re-enters the courtroom and we are back in session. Matthew Caruana Galizia is back on the witness stand and Mercieca asks again on the amount of investigations that Daphne Caruana Galizia was working on.

11:36 We understand that the defence is looking into a specific part of the public inquiry document. We are still waiting for the cross-examination of Matthew Caruana Galizia to continue. Meanwhile, Peter Caruana Galizia, Comodini Cachia and Corinne Vella are having a discussion.

11:28 Mercieca says that his question was not answered. He reiterates that he is after a number and Matthew Caruana Galizia says that it is difficult to answer the question. "It is impossible to give an exact figure," the witness replies. The deposition is suspended until the defence checks a few things.

11:24 Matthew Caruana Galizia says that the work is very fluid for most journalists so he had various threads of importance. The most important was the connection between Electrogas and the Panama Papers, he says.

11:23 Mercieca: "Would you be able to tell us how many investigations you were working on before the murder?"

11:22 He was born in Pieta and is resident in Bidnija. He will testify in English.

11:21 Matthew Caruana Galizia is called to the witness stand.

11:21 Defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran and Yorgen Fenech are chatting and laughing.

11:20 Camilleri's testimony is over.


11:20 Mercieca: "What did Melvin Theuma ask you in the middle of the night when you played the henchman for Keith Schembri?" Camilleri says that he is not responding.

11:19 The magistrate is still not impressed with the defence's line of questioning.

11:19 Mercieca argues that Camilleri had stated that he does not know Yorgen Fenech but the witness chooses not to respond.

11:18 Mercieca asks the witness about his meetings with the investigators into the murder. Camilleri says that he did meet them.

11:17 Mercieca suggests that Camilleri was a henchman for Keith Schembri but the court dismisses the line of questioning.

11:16 Mercieca asks Camilleri whether he was protecting anyone. The court does not allow the question.

11:15 Mercieca asks camilleri whether he testified behind closed doors during the public inquiry into Caruana Galizia's murder and whether he was afraid of anyone. The court disallows the question.

11:14 The magistrate tells Mercieca that she is not here to be lectured about the law. The defence lawyer says that he is "respectfully exerting his right" to ask questions to the witness.

11:13 QUICK REMINDER: The witness, Kenneth Camilleri, was a police officer who acted as bodyguard to then prime minister Joseph Muscat. Camilleri is also a close friend of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri. Pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma had testified in other sittings that after Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder, Camilleri had come to visit him to calm him down. This was a time when Theuma was agitated because one of the murder suspects held in prison - Vince Muscat - started speaking to the police. Theuma has claimed that it was his understanding that Camilleri was sent by Keith Schembri to calm him down. In court today, Superintendent Keith Arnaud has said that Camilleri is not being investigated in relation to the murder but over events that happened after the assassination.

11:09 Magistrate Rachel Montebello formally asks the defence to limit the line of questioning, as the questions made cannot be put to the witness unless he is called as a witness for the defence.

11:08 The witness refuses to answer the questions put to him. The court informs him that the right not to incriminate oneself is not absolute. She scolds Camilleri's lawyer for addressing the court out of line. There is still a back and forth debate between the magistrate and the Fenech's defence about Camilleri's answers.

11:06 Arnaud says that the questions that he asked Camilleri were not related to any investigations into the Degiorgios. Camilleri is called back inside the courtroom.

11:05 Mercieca says Camilleri is contradicting himself when he says that he never dealt with the Degiorgio brothers. Mercieca notes that it is not true that Camilleri never investigated the brothers, who are currently facing

11:04 Arnaud protests about the line of questioning and the defence tells the prosecution not to speak to the witness. The two sides quarrel and camilleri is asked to go outside for the moment.

11:03 Mercieca asks the witness whether any players in the murder saga were close to him. Camilleri responds in the negative.

11:03 Asked by defence lawyer Charles Mercieca why he retired from the police force, Camilleri says that he passed his 25-year mark in the service. He says that in November 2019, he was still in the police force and was stationed at the Żurrieq, Birżebbuġa and Żejtun amongst others.

11:01 The magistrate says that since Camilleri has exerted his right not to incriminate himself, the questioning by the prosecution will be suspended and a cross-examination will follow by the defence.

10:56 The court asks Arnaud whether he has any further questions. He does not and asks for the testimony to be suspended.

10:55 Camilleri is looking tense and fidgety. He is playing around with his hands nervously. He chooses not to respond to another question as to how long he knew Melvin Theuma

10:54 Arnaud asks him how he came to know Melvin Theuma, the pardoned middleman in the Caruana Galizia murder case. Camilleri says he is not responding. Mercieca remarks that if Camilleri knew Theuma, that is not a criminal act.

10:53 Arnaud asks him where he used to work. Camilleri says that he worked at the Office of the Prime Minister. The witness had been a police constable for 18 years. At OPM he used to follow the prime minister around all the time depending on the needs of the day.

10:52 Kenneth Camilleri is summoned into the courtroom and takes the stand. He was born in Mtafra and lives in Tarxien. The magistrate tells him that he is not being investigated for the murder and informs him that he has a right not to answer any questions.

10:50 The magistrate says that since Camilleri is not accused in connection with the homicide, he should be called in for testimony.

10:50 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca protests that there have been no developments into this investigation since 22 June 2020.

10:47 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca asks about other policemen that were present during the arrest. Bondin can't recall the names of the other policemen but Mercieca says that records probably exist.

10:46 Bondin was part of a police squad that was tasked to arrest various people from all around the island on 4 December 2017. He lists some names, including a Mr Cachia who was arrested in Żebbuġ at around 8:15am at a garage that was allegedly used by the Agius brothers, known as Tal-Maksar. A search was conducted on site. Bondin says a black vehicle was going around the area and was driven by Adrian Agius. The inspector says he was given orders to arrest him on the spot and Agius was taken to the depot. Bondin confirms the Tal-Maksar nickname when asked.

10:43 Inspector Kurt Zahra is first on the podium. He exhibits some documents. Inspector Matthew Bondin now takes the stand.

10:36 Magistrate Rachel Montebollo walks into the hall and the sitting begins.

10:33 Fenech chats with his lawyers Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

10:33 The accused, Yorgen Fenech, has just walked into the courtroom with a fresh shave and looking quite joyful. He stands charged with masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

10:32 In the meantime, parte civile lawyers Therese Comodoni Cachia and Jason Azzopardi are having a chat with Inspector Kurt Zahra.

10:27 Yorgen Fenech's defence team, lawyers Charles Mercieca, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri, is chatting away. It seems Caruana Curran has injured his foot and has a walking boot.

10:24 Members of the Caruana Galizia family, including her sister Corinne are present. We're still waiting for proceedings to start but in the meantime the defence team and the prosecution team are all here.

10:02 Fenech's defence lawyers are today expected to cross-examine Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

10:00 Good morning.

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