Yorgen Fenech told police that former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri had paid up to €80,000 to Melvin Theuma to fund the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, it emerged in court on Thursday.
The information emerged from the testimony of police investigator Kurt Zahra in the compilation of evidence against Fenech.
Zahra testified that Fenech had told police that it was Schembri who had wanted to ‘get rid of’ Caruana Galizia and that Schembri would go almost every day to Fenech and say that Daphne Caruana Galizia needed to be killed. Fenech however denied ever actively seeking out someone to do this, Zahra said.
Fenech had recounted to police how when asked about the plan Schembri had said “Mexxi, mexxi, mexxi (go ahead)”, Zahra said.
“Fenech said that Schembri had also paid up to €80,000 to Theuma to fund the murder”, Zahra said in court.
Earlier in the day, it emerged that Schembri was arrested twice and gave three statements to the police.
Inspector Keith Arnaud was being cross-examined in the compilation of evidence against businessman Yorgen Fenech who stands accused of masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The evidence against Fenech primarily rests on the testimony of Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the murder. Theuma, who had secretly recorded various conversations between himself, Fenech and others, was given a presidential pardon to tell all last year.
Magistrate Rachel Montebello is hearing the compilation of evidence against Fenech.
The defence lawyers are Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca.
The prosecution is being led by inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra, assisted by the Attorney General.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.
Follow the commentary on proceedings below:
16:24 That’s it for today. Thank you for following.
16:24 The court has adjourned. The next sitting is on 31 August at 11am.
16:17 Lawyers are discussing procedural matters. It appears that today’s sitting is coming to an end.
16:10 Meanwhile, Zahra has stepped off the witness stand.
16:07 Azzopardi wraps up his questioning. The defence is requesting the exhibition of call profiles of Lawrence Cutajar and Edwin Brincat from service providers between November 2019 and August 2020. The prosecution does not object. 16:06 The questions cannot be reported because of a gag order by the court.
16:05 However, the court stops the parte civile lawyer from going ahead with the questions.
16:00 Court orders journalists not to report the next set of questions and answers.
15:56 Prompted by Azzopardi’s questioning, Zahra says that it didn’t emerge at any point in the investigation that Fenech had tried to stop the murder.
15:54 Zahra adds that Fenech had claimed during interrogation that he was blackmailed by Melvin Theuma.
15:53 Zahra: “No. I recall it as being rather friendly.”
15:52 Azzopardi: “So, in all the recordings, tens of hours, this person, threatened by lowlife Melvin Theuma, there is nothing which says ‘we aren’t of that cut of cloth’?”
15:50 Zahra says there are no links between tal-Maksar and Keith Schembri but that the brothers are known to the police.
15:49 Azzopardi makes reference to another part of the Yorgen Fenech interrogation, which refers to “a certain family from Żebbuġ, tal-Maksar”. Two family members were among the first people to be arrested in December 2017 but were later released and never charged.
15:43 Zahra says there were other communications with Muscat but the transcripts were not available.
15:41 Zahra testifies that in Fenech’s mobile, chats were found with Joseph Muscat, in which Fenech was invited to Muscat’s birthday party in Girgenti. The party was held at the start of 2019. “In it Fenech says that he had not spoken to him [Muscat] much because he was ‘shy’,” Zahra adds.
15:39 Questioning moves on and Zahra says that Yorgen Fenech and Melvin Theuma were both aware of the 2017 election back in December 2016.
15:37 Mercieca stands up as if to object but then sits down.
15:36 Zahra: “I cannot reply because of ongoing investigations.”
15:36 Azzopardi: “In another part of the statement, 17 Black is mentioned. You had asked whether it was Yorgen Fenech’s and he had replied, ‘I will reply at the opportune moment.’ Had Fenech given you more information on the company?”
15:29 The inspector says he had never explained this to him.
15:29 Azzopardi: “Was there a reason as to why Fenech had not answered whether there were other amounts involved, but said he would reply ‘at the opportune moment’?”
15:28 Zahra says Fenech had told the police that the price for the murder was €120,000 not €150,000 at first and it had later increased. Fenech nods.
15:24 Zahra testifies that according to Yorgen Fenech, Keith Schembri called him some 30 times when Melvin Theuma was arrested. “The calls were one after the other,” Zahra tells the court of Fenech’s deposition while in police custody. However, he clarifies that if a call was made through Signal or WhatsApp, this would be likely untraceable, he says in reply to another question by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi.
15:22 QUICK RECAP: Police inspector Kurt Zahra is testifying. Zahra gives details on statements made by Yorgen Fenech to the police when he was under arrest back in November last year. Zahra recounts how Fenech pinned the Caruana Galizia murder on Keith Schembri, describing him as the man who hatched the plan. Zahra is also testifying about various aspects of the murder investigation.
15:19 The court hears how the prosecution is yet to obtain information from the mobile service providers, nine months after the arrests.
15:16 Zahra: “Huma refers to Dr Adrian Vella and Keith Schembri.”
15:15 The witness is now being asked about the attempted escape by Fenech. “Huma xtaqu jħarrbuni jumejn qabel (They wanted me to escape two days before),” Azzopardi reads from the interrogation transcript. He asks who is ‘huma (they)’.
15:11 The defence stand up, loudly arguing that there was sharing of information between the prosecution and the parte civile. Lots of dramatic tossing of files by the defence as they then sit down again. “This is disgusting,” Charles Mercieca says.
Yorgen Fenech’s yacht – the Gio – moored in the Portomaso Marina last November on the day Fenech was arrested.
15:08 The court points out that this has not been mentioned by any witness.
15:08 Zahra: “What I saw as suspicious is a chat between Yorgen Fenech and the captain where Fenech is insisting on the captain to turn on the tracking transponder. This was to a captain who had been working with him for years. Wood told Fenech that it would be better to leave in the morning as it ‘looks less fishy’.”
15:04 Inspector Kurt Zahra is asked about the communication between yacht captain Logan Wood and Yorgen Fenech.
15:00 Moving on, Azzopardi asks a particular question about the statement, but this question is disallowed.
14:58 Arnaud says that he had not given any advice to Azzopardi.
14:57 The court is nonplussed. It asks the prosecution not to comment amongst themselves.
14:57 The defence minutes an observation that Azzopardi had spoken to Arnaud during his questions, raising the fear that he was making direct questions via the parte civile lawyer.
14:54 Azzopardi asks whether the prosecution has forensic evidence as to the call and its duration. Zahra says he would have to check with the task force.
14:53 Zahra: “At the time of the arrest I wasn’t present, but I had received a phone call from [Keith] Arnaud, saying that Yorgen Fenech was going to escape. He was later arrested on his yacht the Gio outside the Grand Harbour. In the three days before his arrest, Fenech had conversations with a relative of his, sending him screenshots of posts by Franco Debono and Jason Azzopardi. Also, an article by the Times of Malta. There were then discussions about whether to take cash with him. All these emerged after the seizure of the mobile phone. One of the chats mentioned ‘K’ thought to be Keith Schembri. The night before Fenech’s arrest, there was an indication that Keith Schembri was communicating with him. A 30 minute call but I am subject to correction.”
14:50 Azzopardi: “What had led to the decision to arrest the accused?”
14:50 Zahra says that there was also physical surveillance going on.
14:49 Zahra: “The end of 2018, beginning 2019. There was intelligence – intercepts as well – in which Theuma was heard referring to ‘dak tat-torri’. This was taken to be Yorgen Fenech.”
14:47 Azzopardi: “When had the accused become a suspect?”
14:47 Zahra: “No.”
14:47 Azzopardi continues with his questioning. “Had it emerged in the investigation that the accused had involvement in insecticides, pesticides or gold mining?”
14:46 The court finds Azzopardi in contempt of court, saying that the court had allowed the questions and this should never be taken as wasting time. The court verbally chastises Azzopardi. The court also observes that the parte civile is given certain rights during criminal proceedings. Citing case law, the role of the parte civile is not to substitute the prosecution and therefore its role was to take an active part in finding of truth and guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The court, therefore, permits the parte civile to make direct questions to the prosecution’s witnesses.
14:41 Mercieca invites Azzopardi to withdraw a comment he overheard, to the effect that it was the mind of the lawyer which wasn’t clear. Azzopardi confirms that he had said this, that the defence was wasting time, that the defence was trying to confuse the proceedings in court.
14:40 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca points out that the strategy was to have the parte civile ask the direct questions as the prosecution was precluded from doing so at law. “This defeats the purpose of the law,” he says, drawing a rueful chuckle from Azzopardi.
14:39 Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi asks the witness what the accused’s job was. “He was a CEO of various companies in the entertainment and hospitality sector,” says the inspector.
14:37 The court denies an objection by the defence to the direct questioning by the parte civile “in view of the closeness of the parte civile to the strategy of the prosecution”.
14:27 Zahra reiterates that unlike Theuma’s statement, Fenech’s interrogation was not recorded on audio-visual means.
14:26 The inspector is now speaking about how Fenech had been confronted with all the recordings they had at the time. Fenech, who is sitting in the dock, shakes his head in disagreement.
14:25 The police inspector testifies that Fenech was asked about the €150,000 paid to the Degriogio brothers. Fenech had corrected the investigator explaining that it was €120,000, which later became €150,000. When asked to elaborate, Fenech had told police “I will reply at the opportune stage”.
14:24 The defence attempt to stop him from testifying on the grounds that this is privileged information. The inspector says that he isn’t going to reveal any such information.
14:22 Zahra testifies that chats showed that Fenech was looking at escaping to Tunis or France and had said he would miss his family. The chats are yet to be exhibited. The chats are with family members, in which Fenech speaks of meeting with lawyers.
14:21 Zahra says that Fenech was arrested on 20 November 2019 and he had insisted that he was not escaping from Malta.
14:20 Zahra continues to testify about what Fenech told police during interrogation. “Fenech said that Schembri had also paid up to €80,000 to Theuma to fund the murder.”
14:18 Fenech told police that one time he had seen Theuma near his children’s school and another time Theuma put a weapon on the table whilst they were talking.
14:17 Fenech had also said that Theuma had been committed to the murder after the latter paid €30,000 out of his own pocket. This was corroborated by other witnesses, Inspector Zahra says. It also transpired that Fenech had paid Theuma €50,000, but the businessman denied doing this to fund the murder but rather because he wanted to get rid of Theuma, as he felt threatened by him.
14:15 Fenech had recounted to police how when asked about the plan Schembri had said “Mexxi, mexxi, mexxi (go ahead)”.
14:13 In a later statement to the police, Fenech had gone into more details, Zahra says.
14:13 Zahra continues to recount what Fenech told police in November. “Fenech had said that when he returned from abroad Theuma told him that he had spoken to people who would do it [the murder] and they would have to pay €120,000 for it. But asked whether this €120,000 was paid, Fenech had refused to confirm or deny,” Zahra says.
14:09 Zahra says that Fenech spoke of a dinner at his Żebbuġ residence where the plan to murder Caruana Galizia was discussed. Fenech had claimed that both Theuma and Schembri were present and days later Theuma had started reaching out to criminals who could assist in the assassination.
14:07 Fenech also claimed during interrogation that Schembri would go almost every day to Fenech and say that Daphne Caruana Galizia needed to be killed. But Fenech denied ever actively seeking out someone to do this, Zahra continues.
14:06 Zahra says Fenech claimed that Schembri would pass on information to him… tipping him off about phone taps on his and Melvin Theuma’s phones.
14:04 QUICK RECAP: Inspector Kurt Zahra is testifying on the statements that Yorgen Fenech had given police during his arrest back in November last year. Fenech had his request for a pardon turned down at the time and police found discrepancies between what he was telling them and information at hand.
14:02 Zahra says that when the police asked Fenech how the plan started, he told them that Keith Schembri wanted to get rid of Caruana Galizia as she was a lot of trouble. Schembri allegedly said so directly and indirectly that she had to be killed.
14:00 According to Fenech’s statement to the police, the ex-prime minister had told him that a raid was going to happen on Melvin Theuma around the beginning of summer. But Zahra adds that as far as he is aware, no raids were planned for that period.
13:59 Zahra continues that Fenech had told police he had spoken twice to former prime minister Joseph Muscat – once at Castille where he was asked about Melvin Theuma and a second time at Girgenti.
13:58 Zahra says that Fenech had explained to the police that the plan was hatched by Keith Schembri, who approached him to get Caruana Galizia murdered. “There were three persons who knew this after the murder… Joseph Muscat, Adrian Vella and Johann Cremona,” Zahra testifies about what Fenech had told investigators.
13:56 The court orders him to sit down.
13:55 Mercieca stands up and shouts: “This is not true.”
13:55 Zahra: “Yorgen Fenech did not at any point deny his involvement in the plan of this murder.”
Yorgen Fenech after emerging from court at the end of last November
13:54 Zahra says Fenech’s lawyers had objected to his interrogation, arguing that the written refusal of a proklama was not there and that Arnaud should not be present. Zahra adds that Arnaud did not participate in the first interrogation. It was conducted by Zahra and a police sergeant.
13:53 Investigations revealed that discrepancies emerged between what Fenech had said and the information already at hand to the police, Zahra says.
13:51 Zahra is testifying about Fenech’s statements, which were released after his requests for a pardon were denied. Zahra says Theuma had released his statements audio-visually, but Fenech had refused to do so. Zahra says that Fenech was verbally informed that his second request for a pardon was refused.
13:50 He is explaining the phases of the criminal investigation into the homicide of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Zahra says the first phase was the arrest of the Degiorgios and Muscat, second was the arrest of Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech and the third phase is currently underway.
13:43 We’re back in the courtroom. The sitting has resumed and Inspector Kurt Zahra takes the witness stand.
13:03 The court suspends the sitting for 30 minutes. Afterwards Inspector Kurt Zahra will testify.
13:01 Arnaud offers to obscure the non-relevant parts and make a copy for the defence.
13:00 The document however contains more information which he didn’t testify about, Arnaud says.
12:59 Mercieca insists that Arnaud present a document he had looked at during his deposition.
12:58 The defence lawyers confer with their client.
12:58 Arnaud explains that the newest recordings contain 12 voice recordings, which are different to those in the box that was given to them by Theuma. “These are between Melvin Theuma and Johann Cremona, and Kenneth Camilleri.”
12:56 The inspector excludes this possibility insofar as he is aware. “I am not aware of any other tapes,” he says.
12:55 Mercieca: “Have more hidden tapes emerged and not been exhibited?”
12:55 He presents a 5-page document of points taken from the last sitting. Mercieca has more questions for the inspector.
12:48 Arnaud’s cross-examination is suspended.
12:48 Mercieca highlights the fact that Theuma was subsequently pardoned.
12:47 Arnaud says it is not possible for him to know. But he points out that sufficient evidence was found to prosecute Theuma.
12:46 Mercieca: “What if I were to tell you that Theuma, knowing of the upcoming raid, had hidden more tapes?”
12:44 Arnaud says that he himself had reported these leaks to the magistrate inquiring into the leaks. However, he explains that he is not investigating the leaks himself. Arnaud says he had spoken to his people in the task force and expressed his dismay over the leaks.
12:43 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca alleges that this morning there were leaks from Fenech’s phone on the media. Ostensibly, the reference is to a story that appeared on the MaltaToday news portal on WhatsApp exchanges between Fenech and Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia.
12:36 The task force which has a separate office, could have made more copies of the data, explains Arnaud. It is not his team and he doesn’t know, he says.
12:35 Arnaud is being asked about who has copies of the data. The explanation he gives is complex and leads nowhere, says the defence.
12:32 “The task force has a copy of the extraction of every device,” Arnaud says. He has access to this copy and can say when it was made. He explains that Fenech’s mobile is in the acts of the murder inquiry.
12:28 Arnaud says that he had seen the same eight recordings as the defence. Due to the technical error, he had requested the re-extraction of the data. Arnaud says the task force is trying to find out if there are any voice recordings which the police didn’t know about. “I didn’t speak to the court expert,” Arnaud says.
12:25 Inspector Arnaud who is back on the witness stand, is asked whether there was further evidence in the tapes not found by the prosecution. The defence alleges that two voice files – Voice 6 and Voice 10 – are missing.
12:22 The court hears that after seizing the apparatus, the police examined its contents. The police exhibited the entire contents of Melvin’s box. Later, other devices were seized, including from Theuma’s family members and these are being investigated.
12:17 The inspector insists that the prosecution decides and invites the defence to indicate what exculpatory evidence they are referring to so he can exhibit it too.
12:16 The inspector will consult with the AG regarding data and sensitive information relating to unrelated third parties. The defence argues that if there is evidence that could exculpate Fenech it must be submitted. The court orders that this line of questioning is to stop.
12:04 The court is informed that the last sitting of this renvoi is on Monday, after which the acts are to be returned to the Attorney General. Mercieca tries to insinuate that this means that the data must be exhibited by Monday, but is stopped by the court.
12:01 Before this, Arnaud continues and dictates a note to the court: “The relevant content was not exhibited yet because the prosecution was not aware of the existence of more relevant data on other devices when the hard drive was exhibited. After becoming aware of this, the prosecution had continued with its investigation and had requested the court that it not exhibit the evidence at this stage so as not to prejudice the investigation.”
11:55 The parte civile wants to make its own statement to the court.
11:55 Arnaud’s cross-examination is suspended. He steps off the witness stand and goes to the prosecution side.
11:54 Arnaud says the investigation is underway and in the coming weeks, the rest of the digital content related to this case, seized by the police from Melvin Theuma and his relatives, will be exhibited together with all the data seized from Yorgen Fenech.
11:52 Mercieca notes to the court that it is clear that the prosecution has total visibility over the contents of the magisterial inquiry and evidence and that the defence is being left in the dark about, “leading to the prosecution being the one deciding what should be exhibited and what should be hidden”.
11:51 The inspector explains that because they are being investigated, they would be exhibited and disclosure will be given. The court adds that disclosure applies to what would be exhibited in court.
11:47 The defence argues that the inspector had filed an application in which he asked to exhibit the hard drive from the inquiry in the compilation of evidence.
11:46 The court makes it very clear that the inspector cannot answer questions which would reveal what is in the inquiry.
11:45 Mercieca asks whether there could be information and messages from Melvin Theuma on these phones. The inspector protests that he is not prepared for these questions, but says that he would happily bring the information at the next sitting. The defence says that these mobile phones contain information which could help Yorgen Fenech and which the police are keeping hidden.
11:43 Arnaud: “The police had taken several other electronic devices.”
11:42 Mercieca: “What if I were to tell you that Theuma has more than 4 mobile phones?”
11:42 Mercieca confers with fellow defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran before making his next question.
Middleman Melvin Theuma, seen above entering court last December
11:41 The inspector says that there were three mobile phones in Melvin Theuma’s box, which means that in total four phones were taken by the police from the man.
11:40 Arnaud: “I don’t even want to answer this question… isn’t it obvious that I’m not?”
11:39 Mercieca: “You aren’t hiding anything, right?”
11:38 Mercieca alleges that the inspector is giving confusing testimony.
11:38 Arnaud had not been present when Theuma’s box of recordings was found, but was present when it was opened in court.
11:38 Arnaud says he had spoken to Theuma about the case for the first time on 19 November 2019, but had spoken to him informally on the day of his arrest. Theuma had wanted to speak about the case but the inspector had told him to speak only with his lawyer present, he explains.
11:34 The questioning goes back to former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. “I didn’t feel it was my duty to investigate Cutajar,” Arnaud says. The defence lawyer interjects: “Are you trying to cover for Lawrence Cutajar?” Arnaud replies confidently: “Absoltuely not and I have no reason to.”
11:30 Arnaud: “No, I am not his friend, but it is in my interest as an investigator to find out what led to what happened.”
11:29 Mercieca: “Are you his friend?”
11:29 Arnaud says that the last time he spoke to Theuma was on 4 June and the conversation lasted one hour 15 minutes. “I also went to see him in hospital,” he adds.
11:27 “There were no off the record chats with Melvin Theuma about the investigation. Whenever we needed to speak about the case we went into the interrogation room,” the inspector says.
11:26 Arnaud replies that he doesn’t know who is investigating Cutajar and insists it is normal that he is not informed. This is normal police practice, he adds.
11:25 Mercieca: “Now you have the information that the [former] police commissioner spoke to Ġojja about how to testify, who did you pass it on to?”
11:24 Mercieca keeps up the pressure with his quick-fire questioning.
11:24 Arnaud: “Assistant Commissioner Antoine Casha and the Police Commissioner.”
11:23 Mercieca: “Who are they?”
11:23 Arnaud is asked who is investigating, but he doesn’t know. “My superiors told me,” explains Arnaud. “This question can be posed to my superiors,” says the inspector.
11:22 The police are still investigating whether there were any bribes linked to the pardon given to Melvin Theuma.
11:21 Mercieca suggests that Cutajar took bribes for several related issues.
11:21 The inspector says he hadn’t spoken to Ġojja about his friendship with Cutajar. This was because he wasn’t aware of it at the time. “Now it is emerging that Ġojja and Cutajar had a long friendship,” confirms the witness.
11:20 Magistrate: “The disclosure is not given in cross examination, it is requested and the court decides. If there are questions which could compromise the investigation, the court will not allow them.”
11:19 The inspector says this line of questioning will harm the investigation. Mercieca argues that the defence has not yet been given full disclosure.
11:18 Did the inspector investigate the ties between Ġojja and Mario Tonna?
Former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar
11:16 The inspector cites the ongoing investigation.
11:10 Mercieca asks why after the emergence of this shocking information, the police had not sent for him.
11:09 Arnaud says he did not send for Lawrence Cutajar. The court disallows a question about whether the police planned to send for him at a later stage.
11:07 Mercieca claims that after Brincat testified, Lawrence Cutajar had spoken to him. Arnaud confirms, but is hesitant, due to to ongoing investigations.
11:06 Did the police ask him if he had a new mobile phone when they last saw him? Mercieca asks. No, Arnaud replies.
11:06 Questioning turns to Edgar Brincat ‘il-Gojja’, a confidant of Melvin Theuma and known in crime circles, who happened to have the ear of none other than the Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Cutajar. Brincat was questioned by Arnaud on 15 June 2019, just before his testimony; he had been arrested twice but he remained silent. Cutajar was not present for the questioning, although he was present in the building that day. Arnaud says the police, namely the Economic Crimes Unit headed by Nicholas Vella, had taken Brincat’s mobile phone.
11:01 Vella was arrested by three or four officers (Arnaud premises Vella’s claim about a “regiment” of officers arresting him). But for Keith Schembri, only Arnaud and Zahra had gone. “This was because of the time of the visit,” Arnaud says.
10:55 Police took 4 statements from Fenech family doctor Adrian Vella. Arnaud says he had not spoken to Vella since his questioning. He did speak to Vella’s lawyer however.
10:55 Arnaud recalls phone records of conversations between Camilleri and middleman Melvin Theuma, one of them saying “Let’s meet in Valletta at Johann Cremona’s.” (Cremona is a business partner of Yorgen Fenech).
10:53 Again… the police did not take Camilleri’s phone.
10:53 Questions turn to Kenneth Camilleri, the Security Service detail at the OPM who was a go-between of sorts for Keith Schembri. Arnaud says the last time he spoke to him was when he testified. “I had asked him if he had anything to add to what he had said. He had replied in the negative but that he would contact his lawyer and see if there was anything to add.” Camilleri spoke too the police, released two statements, and was not arrested. “Camilleri said he did not know Keith Schembri and that he had never met Yorgen Fenech,” Arnaud says. Camilleri was not played any recordings during his questioning. He was not arraigned.
10:50 Mercieca says that two witnesses had said that Schembri passed on the letters – Fenech and Vella. He asks why nobody was arrested in connection with this. Arnaud says Fenech said that two documents went from Schembri to Vella to Fenech.
“Based on that information, Vella was arrested,” Arnaud says. “Vella confirmed that he passed on Schembri’s documents to Fenech, but he did not see the contents. They were just papers.”
10:48 Arnaud never asked how many phones Vella had. He says he only found out about Vella’s relationship with Schembri after speaking to Vella. Vella had said that he would go drink whiskey at Schembri’s house on occasion. “Fenech told police that he went to the United States with Keith Schembri and Vella,” Mercieca says. “It could be that he mentioned it,” Arnaud replies.
10:45 Mercieca asks again to see Arnaud’s notes. It is possibly a tactic to confuse the witness. The court is not happy with this and says the inspector will exhibit them at the end of his testimony.
10:44 Arnaud tells defence that police did not take Vella’s mobile phone at the time of his arrest. “I did not know he was speaking to Schembri at the time; we went after Vella after Yorgen Fenech said he acted as a messenger for Schembri,” he goes on.
10:43 Questioning turns to the arrest of the Fenechs’ family doctor Adrian Vella.
10:40 Three statements were taken from Schembri, Arnaud explains. The first was on the 26th November 2019 when he was arrested at 7:15am in connection to the murder. He was held in custody until midnight on 28th November 2019. Schembri was put on police bail until the next morning at 10am. Police took three statements from Schembri: The first was two hours long. The second was 50 minutes long. The third lasted 40 minutes.
10:32 Keith Schembri was arrested twice, Arnaud says. Questioned under arrest, not ‘sent for’.
Keith Schembri was arrested twice in relation to the case.
10:31 Mercieca says he sees Arnaud writing and reading notes, which he duly points out to the court, asking him to exhibit them. The court says it hadn’t seen him read from the notes. Inspector Arnaud says he is taking notes but not reading from them.
10:31 Melvin Theuma’s arrest is a separate inquiry, Arnaud explains. The inquiry was started by Inspector Nicholas Vella under Magistrate Gabriella Vella, while Magistrate Neville Camilleri is conducting the inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia.
10:26 Mercieca asks if the 4 Europol officers lifted evidence from the scene. “It was collected by the (Maltese) forensics team and passed on to Europol.”
10:24 The magistrate stops a request to name the members of the team, as there are court experts involved.
10:22 Another three officers work in Kurt Zahra’s office. Arnaud says that at the time of middleman Melvin Theuma’s arrest, six officers were at hand. Arnaud reads out the names of his officers to the court. “Who would liaise with Europol?” asks Mercieca. “I cannot say and I will explain,” Arnaud says. “The Europol liaison team were divided into court experts and those who help us with police work. It depends on who is on duty at the time.”
10:16 Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca asks Arnaud how many people are in his investigative team. The inspector replies that around 15 people are in the homicide squad and in his office are 4 people, three on duty at any time.
10:15 Inspector Keith Arnaud takes the stand for his cross-examination to continue.
10:12 Magistrate Rachel Montebello enters the courtroom and the sitting begins.
10:11 All the courtroom players have assembled. We are waiting for the magistrate to emerge from chambers.
10:04 We are in a different, larger, courtroom than last time, after the last sitting was affected by social distancing complaints.
10:01 Yorgen Fenech has just been ushered into the courtroom under incredibly tight security. Armed guards stand every 5 metres in the corridors outside the hall