A judge has declared the first statement made by Yorgen Fenech to the police after his arrest in 2019 as inadmissible and not to be exhibited as evidence in his upcoming trial. 

Madam Justice Edwina Grima delivered her judgment in chambers on Friday on a number of pre-trial pleas made by both the defence and the prosecution in the case against Fenech, who stands charged with having masterminded the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

The 76-page judgement deals with a number of exemptions made by both parties on what evidence can and cannot be shown to the jury during the eventual trial. 

While the judge denied the majority of the defence’s 36 pleas, she upheld a request to have a statement given by Fenech to the police in connection to his request for a presidential pardon struck from the record.

The defence argued that these statements had been presented under false pretences and did not satisfy the requirement in the criminal code which require any confessions made to be voluntary and not extorted by any promise or suggestion of favour. 

While the Attorney General argued that the exception should be dismissed, drawing comparisons to testimony given by middleman Melvin Theuma in a similar situation, the court vehemently disagreed, saying that the position of the accused and a prosecution witness in the course of justice are not at all comparable. 

Fenech had offered to spill the beans on corrupt government deals in return for a pardon.

The judge found that the statements made by Fenech in this instance had been given to the police in a less than official fashion and after the possibility of granting Fenech a presidential pardon had been explored.

Thus, Fenech’s statement was ruled inadmissible and the judge ordered it not to be referred to during the trial. 

The court also accepted a plea to have the testimony of witness Ioulia Thoma restricted only to her expertise on evidence. It found that she may have expressed an opinion about the case due to the fact that she was employed with Europol.

This document, the judge said, should not be distributed among the jury and should her testimony be required along the way, this must be restricted strictly to known facts from forensic evidence. 

Grima went on to dismiss most of the other exemptions brought forward by the defence, including claims that some of Fenech’s statements to the police were inadmissible because he was under the influence of narcotics at the time. 

Lawyer Charles Mercieca made a fresh case for bail on Fenech’s behalf during Friday’s proceedings, highlighting the fact that he had been incarcerated for three years, despite there being no conviction and having a clean record of conduct. 

He argued that Fenech was still presumed innocent until proven otherwise and had the means to offer significant guarantees to satisfy the court's fears. There was no concern that Fenech could abscond or obstruct justice and he was willing to comply with any conditions imposed on him.

“Everyone gets bail eventually, we even give bail to repeat offenders who breach their bail conditions. Why is Mr Fenech’s case different,” Mercieca asked. 

The prosecution objected to bail, saying that there was still a risk Fenech could obstruct evidence in ongoing investigations. 

Grima adjourned the sitting and will decide on bail in another sitting. 

Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia prosecuted. Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri assisted Fenech. 

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