Schembri’s phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

Yorgen Fenech was denied bail today at the end of another long sitting in court in which the compilation of evidence in the case against him for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia continued.

In today’s sitting the court heard Inspector Keith Arnaud say that Keith Schembri did not give the police the password to his iCloud and emails.

Arnaud said that police had asked for data to locate the last known position of Schembri’s mobile phone, which is stuill missing. Schembri told police that he lost his phone.

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In other testimony, the police found €7,000 on Fenech’s yacht when he was arrested.

The court also heard that keith Schembri’s office at Castille was not sealed by the police at the time of his arrest, on 26 November, and was only searched 10 days later, on 5 December. In between, the police were told that the office was locked by Schmebir’s deputy, Mark Farrugia, who kept the key.

The case is being heard in front of Magistrate Rachel Montebello. The defence lawyers are Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

The prosecution is being led by inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra, assisted by the state advocate.

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

Please follow minute-by-minute proceedings below. Refresh for latest updates

1.49pm: The court is adjourned until the 30 January at 10am. This means that Fenech will be spending Christmas and the New Year in prison. 

1.46pm:  Magistrate rules against bail. She says that she is not satisfied that the course of justice will be carried out if bail is granted, especially because so many investigations were still going on.

1.45pm: Magistrate Montebello has issued a decree on the accused’s request for bail, made on 18 December. The magistrate is reading it out now.

1.44pm: The magistrate is once again presiding.

1.19pm: Magistrate Montebello has returned to her chambers to deliberate on the bail submissions. A decisionm is expected shortly.

1.18pm: Caruana Curran loses his patience and says: “So whoever is trying to frame him is out there, proof is being lost, and our client is here, locked up.”

1.15pm: The assistant attorney general suggests that the release of Fenech on bail would be a cause for civil arrest. He draws comparisons to the three men charged with executing the murder: Vincent Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio. He tells the court that if these three were to be released, civil unrest would surely follow.

1.11pm: Galea Farrugia says that Fenech had asked for police surveillance with him 24/7 during his arrest, so during that time, it’s true that an escape was unlikely.

1.09pm: In response, Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia says that as soon as Fenech was arrested, the accused’s wife and child went abroad to the United Kingdom. “At this point, his family is abroad.” Fenech straightens up and claims that he’s incorrect. “No, they are in Malta,” he says.

1.08pm: Defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran has taken over and tells the court that the protests that are taking place in Malta are not against Yorgen Fenech, but against the lack of reaction of the police, the lack of rule of law in the country. Therefore, granting him bail would not result in civil unrest. The civil unrest exists because of the government, Caruana Curran says. “Let’s not try to dump everything on Yorgen Fenech.”

schembris phone still missing his castille office not sealed by police between arrest search - Schembri's phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

1.05pm: Camilleri tells the court that it’s clear that Fenech did not intend to leave Malta when he was intercepted on his yacht in November because “he had just €7,000 on his yacht.” Camilleri is telling the court that the evidence submitted by Melvin Theuma, “the most important witness here”, has been preserved and that there was no evidence to be tampered with.

1.04pm: Court is now back in session. Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri is submitting a bail request. She is insisting with the court that the presumption of innocence should prevail at all stages. “Is there anything difference in this case compared to other cases? This is a particular case, yes, because Fenech has been arraigned quite quickly compared to other cases, but the presumption of innocence should prevail,” Camilleri says, adding that while Fenech was out on police bail numerous times, the police were in constant contact with him.

12.46pm: Parte civile counter-examination is over. No more witnesses will testify. The court has been suspended for a few minutes and bail for the accused will be discussed when the sitting resumes.

12.45pm: Asked about Keith Schembri’s phone, Arnaud tells the court: “We asked him about his phone and he said he lost it. Then we asked him for passwords for the cloud, his email but to this day he did not provide any passwords because of sensitive work emails.”

12.42pm: Arnaud confirms that Vella had said that he had called Keith Schembri during this time. Schembri had told the doctor: “Keep calm, and open the door to the police.” Arnaud tells the court that there are many “loose ends” in the investigation and that there were many ends that slipped from their grasp. He confirms that an investigation into Adrian Vella’s calls to Keith Schembri was taking place.

12.36pm: Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi is counter-examining Arnaud. He asks whether Adrian Vella, Yorgen Fenech’s and Keith Schembri’s personal doctor. had a mobile phone when he was arrested. “Yes, he did, between 25 and 26 November. But he told us that he cleaned all the contents of his phone,” Arnaud says, adding that the doctor had told police that he was scared.

schembris phone still missing his castille office not sealed by police between arrest search 1 - Schembri's phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

12.35pm: Arnaud says the tapes make reference to ‘ix-xiħ.’ These tapes are recordings of Melvin Theuma’s conversation with Yorgen Fenech. Arnaud confirms that Fenech mentions ‘ix-xih’ not Theuma, and he did this to refer to a Castille meeting.

12.30pm: Defence lawyer Caruana Curran asks the chief investigator whether Kenneth Camilleri was mentioned in the recordings. Arnaud confirms that ‘Kenneth of Castille’ was mentioned in the tapes but never by surname. It was Theuma, who later who confirmed the surname. Kenneth Camilleri was part of the security detail of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

12.24pm: Arnaud says that when Schembri was under arrest (26 November), no one was keeping guard of his office at Castille to make sure that evidence wasn’t being tampered with. No police were sent to make sure that the office of the former chief of staff at Castille was sealed, Arnaud says. He claims that he talked to the new chief of staff, Mark Farrugia, and that he had locked up the office when Schembri was arrested. Arnaud says that Farrugia told him that he (Farrugia) was the only one in charge of that office and nobody had entered it. A proper search of Keith Schembri’s Castille office took place on 5 December, Arnaud confirms.

12.22pm: “Did this happen because you go along well with Keith Schembri?” Caruana Curran asks. Arnaud says that he saw Schembri the first time in Castille. Magistrate Rachel Montebello warns the defence not to pursue this line of questioning because there were other inquiries which were charged to do this work.

12.20pm: “Is it normal for an inspector to communicate with Castille on situations like these?” Caruana Curran asks. Arnaud says that this was the first experience when he walked into Castille due to an investigation. “2017 was the first time I walked into Castille, in fact,” he says.

schembris phone still missing his castille office not sealed by police between arrest search 2 - Schembri's phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

12.18pm: Arnaud says that Kurt Zahra, former deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta, assistant police commissioner Kevin Farrugia and Michael Mallia were all present at some point during the investigation.

12.14pm: “What did you do as a police inspector to find this mobile phone?” Caruana Curran asks. “The investigation is still going on,” Arnaud replies and continues, “so I need to be careful what to say. Like in the case of another phone we tried to trace, it depends on various factors whether we will be able to find it, such as whether it’s on or off, for example.” Arnaud adds that he is not sure whether Schembri told him where and when the mobile phone was lost.

12.12pm: Keith Arnaud is now being questioned by Caruana Curran. He is asking him on whether Keith Schembri is still being investigated. “Investigation into Keith Schembri is still taking place. His mobile phone is yet to be found. The reason why he hasn’t been asked again to reproduce his phone is that there are other more pertinent things. We have also asked for data to see where this phone was used last,” Arnaud says.

12.11pm: Lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran, appearing for Yorgen Fenech, is now counter-examining Nicholas Vella. The lawyer asks whether Keith Schembri was mentioned during this time. Vella says that, yes, Schembri’s name was mentioned. Inspector Keith Arnaud interjects: “How was he mentioned though?” Vella says that Schembri was mentioned after the box was opened and Schembri was recognised in one of the photos found in the box.

12.08pm: Nicholas Vella tells the court that he was present with Melvin Theuma until the box was opened.

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12.02pm: Vella says that when Theuma was arrested, he had been holding a box which he would not “at all costs” part from. “I told him that wherever that box goes, I would go. And that has been the case up until the box was opened,” Vella says. The box contained numerous recordings, evidence, a photo of Theuma and Keith Schembri in Castille. Vella says that Theuma refused to let the box go, insisting he would only speak to the police commissioner.

11.55am: Vella says that he anticipated that his investigations would conclude at the end of November. “I came up with 16 November as the date when the arrest of Melvin Theuma could be carried out.”

11.54am: Inspector Nicholas Vella from the police’s anti-money laundering unit testifies: “A number of misdemeanours regarding money laundering, tax evasion and illegal gambling were clear from the investigation. On 28 October, I met with a number of people from Europol and CID who showed interest in my investigation. They offered their assistance and I kept giving them updates into my investigation into Melvin Theuma.”

11.51am:  Inspector Nicholas Vella from the money laundering unit is next to testify. “On 9 September, I received a confidential report with regard to Melvin Theuma. After receiving this report, I started a financial investigation into him,” he tells the court. Melvin Theuma is the middleman in the Caruana Galizia murder. He was granted a presidential pardon to tell all. Theuma was arrested last month in a money laundering operation and started speaking to the police on his involvement in the murder.

11.48am: Another police officer takes the stand, recounting what he had witnessed during investigations. He identifies Yorgen Fenech as the accused in the courtroom. He repeats what other officers had said on the searches on the yacht and Portomaso offices. The testimony ends and there are no counter-examinations.

11.46am: Keith Arnaud questions the witness on Fenech’s short visit to Mater Dei. Micallef says that while he wasn’t with Fenech all the time during Fenech’s emergency visit, there were no individuals who had been with him apart from emergency doctors. At one point, Micallef was replaced by Arnaud’s driver, he says, to act as security with Fenech. The testimony ends.

schembris phone still missing his castille office not sealed by police between arrest search 4 - Schembri's phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

11.40am: “On 20 November, I assisted on searches carried out in Portomaso,” Micallef says, identifying Fenech in court. He adds that he could confirm that Fenech complained of chest pains at one point and his doctor, Adrian Vella was called. Micallef also lists a number of items that were requisitioned by the police, including some bank cards, laptops, equipment, mobile phones, a small camera and sim cards.

11.39am: Police sergeant Antoine Micallef has taken the stand.

11.38am: The testimony has concluded.

11.37am: Now Caruana Curran is counter-examining the officer. Fenech’s defence lawyer asks the officer how Fenech’s behaviour was during the accused’s arrest. “We never had problems. He was cooperative. There were certain occasions when he was on police bail, and we were assigned as security with him. Whatever we told him, he was very amenable and collaborative,” the officer says.

11.36am: Police officer says that he was also the one to escort Keith Schembri at some point to the police headquarters. He was accompanied by inspectors Kurt Zahra and Keith Arnaud. He tells the court that searches were carried out at Keith Schembri’s house in Mellieha. He explains how this was the extent of his involvement with the investigation. 

11.35am: Inspector Kevin Pulis informed the testifying officer that he should escort Fenech sometime during his interrogation because he was complaining of pain in his chest.

11.34am: The officer says that after the searches were concluded, Fenech was escorted to police headquarters.

schembris phone still missing his castille office not sealed by police between arrest search 5 - Schembri's phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

11.29am: The officer also identifies two printed emails from now Airmalta chairman Charles Mangion that were found in Fenech’s office. Mangion was appointed Enemalta chairman in 2013. An Enemalta factsheet is also presented to the court.

11.27am: The officer identifies six documents found in Fenech’s possession that are letters from Fenech addressed to middleman Melvin Theuma’s address.

11.25am: Chief inspector Keith Arnaud asks the police officer to identify any documents that he had confiscated from these locations and he identifies them to the satisfaction of the court.

11.18pm: The officer describes how many items were confiscated from these locations and placed in evidence bags: sim cards, BOV cards, an American Express card, a Revolut card, a laptop, phones, a passport. These were handed to inspector Kevin Pulis.

11.16am: The police officer says that four searches took place after Fenech’s arrest: one on the yacht, another in Fenech’s Portomaso residence, another in an office on level 3 of the Portomaso business tower in Tumas Group’s corporate offices and another in an office on level 21 of the Portomaso business tower.

11.15am: Another police officer from the Drugs squad has taken to the stand and he has identified Yorgen Fenech in the courtroom as the man he saw on the ‘Gio’ when the yacht was searched. He was the one who arrested Fenech on suspicion of murder and read him his rights.

11.13am: The cross-examination has ended and Pulis leaves the stand.

11.12am: Caruana Curran asks about the documents submitted on Wings development and asks Pulis whether he’s aware that these companies are now closed. Pulis claims that he doesn’t know. The lawyer asks whether Fenech collaborated in any way. “No, we never had a problem. There was full collaboration from him. No problem at all,” Pulis tells the court.

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11.10am: Fenech’s defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Currana is questioning Kevin Pulis. Caruana Curran asks whether €7,000 were found found on Fenech’s yacht. Pulis confirms that this was the case and also tells the lawyer that the mobile phones that were found on the yacht, including Fenech’s personal phone, were handed to members of Europol for examination.

11.08am: Arnaud asks Pulis to clarify what happened between Fenech and his doctor Vella during Fenech’s arrest. Pulis claims that 24 November is the last time that Vella met Fenech and when they did during his arrest, they were allowed to speak in confidence.

11.04am: Pulis submits a lengthy, Nexia BT report, dated 2015. This was found, Pulis says, in Fenech’s Portomaso office. The contents of the report are not mentioned.

11.01am: The prosecution, led by Keith Arnaud, is now questioning inspector Kevin Pulis, today’s main witness. Pulis presents documents of Wings Development Ltd and Wings Investments Ltd found in Fenech’s offices in Portomaso. It was previously reported that in March 2017, Fenech’s 17 Black had changed its name to Wings Development.

10.59am: The inspector continues to submit a number of invoices and documents found in Portomaso.

10.57am: The inspector has submitted an invoice of €1 million found at Fenech’s portomaso offices issued by New Energy Supply Ltd to Gem Holdings Ltd, a group of Maltese interests, including the Apap Bologna Family, Gasan Enterprises and Fenech himself, in the LNG Delimara power station.

schembris phone still missing his castille office not sealed by police between arrest search 7 - Schembri's phone still missing; his Castille office not sealed by police between arrest, search

10.45am:  The inspector presents photographs to the court, together with a number of receipts signed by Europol experts referring to items that were confiscated by Maltese police and handed to them, and other important articles.

10.38am: Police then went to Vella’s Qawra clinic but searches for the doctor there resulted in the negative. It is through the daughter that the police eventually made contact with Vella. He was told to come to police headquarters for questioning.

10.36am: On 26 November, the inspector says that at around 11pm, he was informed by Keith Arnaud that Adrian Vella is to be questioned as well. He says that though Vella’s car was parked in Bugibba outside his residence, Vella was not opening the front door of his residence and could not be reached. Keith Arnaud insisted that it was important that Adrian Vella be questioned.

10.35am: On 22 November, Zahra says, the anti-money laundering unit carried out searches of its own in Portomaso and confiscated a number of documents. Zahra says that the main concern at the time, however, was electronic equipment.

10.32am: A Europol investigator asked police that the vessel be once again searched thoroughly in Fenech’s presence for fear that there could be explosives on the ‘Gio.’ No explosives were found, Zahra says.

10.30am: After the search on the boat was concluded, the day of his arrest, Fenech was escorted to police headquarters so the interrogation and investigations could continue.

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10.28am: Police were then told that Fenech was experiencing some form of anxiety during police searches. His doctor, Adrian Vella, was called and spent two hours with Fenech while the searches took place.

10.26am: Wood also told police that he was unaware of Fenech’s possible plan to escape the island, Zahra tells the court.

10.25am: Wood explained that his plan was to go to Pozzallo and then come back to Malta via catamaran. Zahra asked Wood about Fenech’s plan and Wood replied saying that Fenech planned to go up to Pozzallo but was not going to return to Malta.

10.23am: Wood was then told to join the officers at the police headquarters and was asked to make a statement. Wood wanted legal representation to be present and he submitted a six-page statement. In it, he claimed that he was employed by Tumas Group as the captain of Fenech’s vessels. “It’s normal for me to take the vessel to Sicily for maintenance before it’s ready to sail,” Wood told police in his statement.

10.21am: The investigation then moved to the Portomoso penthouse. The captain of the ‘Gio’, Logan Wood, was told to remain on the yacht.

10.20am: Zahra says that all the photographs pertinent to the investigation that were taken aboard the yacht and all articles of interest were handed over to members of Europol.

10.19am: After a preliminary search aboard the yacht, police inspectors asked Fenech whether there were any dangerous instruments on the vessel that could be a danger to them. Police found around €7,000 aboard the vessel.

10.18am: At around 6:30am, Zahra says, the police inspectors went aboard the yacht and arrested Fenech. He was arrested on suspicion of his involvement in the murder of Caruana Galizia.

10.17am: Zahra tells the court that on 19 November at around 6:15am, he had been informed by inspector Keith Arnaud that Yorgen Fenech had been seen aboard his yacht ‘Gio’.

10.15am: Inspector Kurt Zahra is testifying first.

10.14am: The family of Caruana Galizia, her parents, sons Andrew and Paul, and her sisters are present at the back of the courtroom.

10.13am: Magistrate Rachel Montebello enters the courtroom.

10.08am: Yorgen Fenech has been brought into the courtroom

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