Updated 2.14pm

Yorgen Fenech told Keith Schembri that he had “no other way” other than killing Daphne Caruana Galizia, self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma testified in court on Wednesday. 

Theuma said Fenech had told him of that conversation with Schembri after the former chief of staff at the Office of the Prime Minister had “gone cold” after learning what the renowned businessman had done. 

“Yorgen told me that he told him that he (Fenech) had reason to worry, because he was the mastermind,” Theuma testified. 

In three hours of testimony, a hoarse and frail Theuma recounted some of the conversations he had with Fenech, who stands accused of complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder.

It was not Fenech who was in the dock on Wednesday, though: Theuma was testifying in the case against the three men accused of carrying out the October 2017 hit. 

Lawyer Marc Sant, representing one of the three alleged hitmen, Vince Muscat, played Theuma excerpts from recordings he made concerning the murder and asked him questions about them.

As Theuma testified, one of Fenech’s lawyers, Charles Mercieca, watched and listened.

Theuma said at the time he had been convinced that Schembri was involved in the murder. Fenech had told him that it was Schembri who sent Kenneth Camilleri – a member of Joseph Muscat’s security detail – to his house, to tell him that the Degiorgio brothers would be getting bail. 

“He was the one who leaked information to Yorgen Fenech, who promised bail. That’s what Yorgen told me,” Theuma said. 

“I believed Keith Schembri was a big deal, and since Yorgen got information from him I believed that we would never get caught.” 

He recalled Fenech telling him that police arresting the suspected hitmen had found a phone at the bottom of the sea with just one number on it – that of former minister Chris Cardona - which Alfred Degiorgio had allegedly used.  

Fenech told him that Schembri had given him that information, Theuma said. 
But the middleman – who has obtained a presidential pardon in exchange for turning state witness - also said that his conviction about Schembri’s involvement in the murder had faded. 

“As far as I’m concerned, the mastermind is Yorgen Fenech ta' Tumas. He was the one who ordered me,” he said early in his testimony, adding later “I used to believe that Keith Schembri was also in on the crime. Under oath, I cannot confirm that.”

Silvio Valletta

The middleman said that Silvio Valletta, who at the time was deputy police commissioner, was also passing information on to Fenech. He recalled being at Fenech’s Portomaso office and being told Valletta was due to pop by later “for whisky”. 

At the time, Valletta was facing a court case to have him removed from the murder investigation. Theuma said Fenech had reassured him that would not happen. 

Valletta was eventually ordered off the case in October 2018 and retired in 2019. His close relationship to Fenech was exposed by Times of Malta in January 2020. 


Theuma said he grew fearful as investigators closed in on them and word reached him that Vince Muscat was willing to collaborate with the police. 

Lawyer Marc Sant noted a recording in which Fenech could be heard saying that the government was “panicking”. 

Theuma said that as far as he was concerned, it was himself and Fenech who were panicking. 

“I began to believe that they wanted to put me away or kill me,” he said, recalling how Fenech had once spoken of having the Degiorgio brothers “tossed” and thinking how that could also happen to him. 

His suspicions about Fenech continued to grow, he said, recalling how he had once told his partner that he intended to throw away a cut of meat which Fenech had given him, only for Fenech to confront him about that, just two days later.

“Who told him? Was it my partner? I don’t think so.” 

The case continues on Friday. 

Superintendent Keith Arnaud prosecuted. 

Lawyer Marc Sant represented Vince Muscat. Lawyer Jason Azzopardi appeared on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family. 

Philip Galea Farrugia and Anthony Vella appeared on behalf of the attorney general's office. 

As it happened

Live blog ends

1.21pm This live blog will end here. Thank you for having joined us. 

Case adjourned to Friday 

1.20pm The three men in the dock are escorted out of court. 

Theuma follows, surrounded by plainclothes officers protecting him. The middleman will be back in court, though. Lawyer Marc Sant has more questions for him, based on other tapes. 

The magistrate adjourns the case to this Friday at 2pm.

'We always spoke about the murder'

1.17pm Theuma says the reference to “us” (aħna) panicking was about himself and Fenech. 

Azzopardi: And always in relation to the murder? 

Theuma: Yes, Yorgen and I always spoke about the murder.” 

No further questions from Azzopardi. 

'I used to think Schembri was involved, but cannot confirm'

1.15pm  Theuma says Fenech gave him €150,000 in cash for the murder, two weeks after the 2017 general election. Theuma says Fenech called him to pick him up and take him to the airport, then drew an envelope out of his luggage. 

Theuma says he had told Fenech that there was a deposit of €30,000, but that Fenech had given him the full amount, up front. 

“I used to believe that Keith Schembri was also in on the crime. Under oath, I cannot confirm that.”

Fenech and Schembri

1.11pm Azzopardi asks about Fenech telling Schembri “I had no other way”. 

Theuma: Yorgen told me that Keith went cold (kesaħ). That’s when he told Keith Schembri “I had no other way” (Ma kellix way oħra). Yorgen told me that he told him that he (Fenech) had reason to worry, because he was the mastermind. But I told Yorgen that I had never revealed his identity to the hitmen. 

'Toss them away'

1.07pm Theuma: Yorgen once said something that worried me. He said “toss them away” (armihom l’hemm) about the Degiorgios. It made me think, ‘that’s how he would treat me too’.

'Who told Yorgen about the meat?' 

1.05pm Theuma tells an anecdote. 

“Once Yorgen Fenech gave me a joint of meat at his farmhouse, to take home and cook. On my way back, I called my partner and told her I would throw it away. ‘He wants to poison us all. I’ll throw it away in the first skip I find’, I told her.” 

“But a few days, later, Yorgen told me about it.”

Magistrate: About what? 

Theuma: About what I did with the meat. I never told anyone except my partner about this meat. It was joint. Yorgen told me he knew, two days later. Who told him? Was it my partner? I don’t think so. 

'Was it the tall minister who wears glasses?'

12.59pm Azzopardi says (Italian TV channel) Rai 3 ran a feature about the murder that day. He says a (Maltese) minister was quoted in the programme. 

Theuma: Was it the tall minister who wears glasses? At the time, I panicked. I kept calling Yorgen Fenech, but I doubt he answered my calls. 

Scare over Times of Malta article 

12.56pm Azzopardi: Fenech told you “If we remain focused, they can kiss our..” (Jekk nibqgħu moħħna hemm, ibusulna l...). Who was ‘us’? 

Theuma: Me and Yorgen. He meant we should not fight over the murder. 
Azzopardi: (Lawyer Marc) Sant asked about November 18, 2018 when you called Yorgen Fenech 28 times in one day. Do you confirm that? 

Theuma: Yes. It must have been about some report in the media about us. Perhaps (activist group) Occupy Justice.

Azzopardi refers to a Times of Malta article published that day: ‘Daphne murder mastermind suspects identified – investigators’. He translates for Theuma, whose English is poor. 

Theuma says he's not good at English, but had followed news analysis of that day on TVM. 

Why use Signal? 

12.52pm Azzopardi: You said Fenech told you to use (messaging app) Signal instead of WhatsApp. Why? 

Theuma: Because Signal is safer than WhatsApp. Yorgen Fenech told me so and he downloaded the app on my phone. That was after the murder, when we spoke about il-Koħħu (Vince Muscat). 

Azzopardi questions Theuma

12.50pm MelvinTheuma is back in court, as are the three men facing murder charges.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi begins his questioning of the witness. 

Five-minute break

12.24pm  Lawyer Marc Sant says he has no further questions for Theuma. But parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi has some. 

First though, the magistrate orders a five-minute break. 

'Yorgen told me he got information from Keith' 

12.19pm Theuma: Yorgen always told me that he was getting information from Keith". 

Sant: Why do they refer to you as 'raġel tal-bagalja?' (Suitcase man)

Theuma: Because of the money. The last payment of €125,000 I gave to Alfred (Degiorgio). I took him to a garage and handed the money in an envelope, not a suitcase.

Heated conversation 

12.12pm Theuma and Fenech can be heard discussing animatedly on the tape. There's mention of "Keith", "Kenneth", "honour" (irġulija) and plenty of swearing. 

Payments for the Degiorgios 

12.10pm  Theuma returns to his sense of betrayal.

“I began to believe that they wanted to put me away or kill me,” he says. “Isn’t that betrayal? We finished it, they did it to her and then that was it (Aħna lestejniha, għamluhielha u mbagħad daqshekk). 

Theuma says he arranged an initial payment (for the Degiorgios) of €30,000 through Mario Degiorgio (another brother of Alfred and George’s). 

He says he and Alfred Degiorgio spoke over the phone, “a month or two” after the Degiorgios were arrested.

“You can check the prison call logs,” he says. 

Theuma:  After that first payment, Mario Degiorgio told me that his brothers needed another €30,000 and that George was willing to barter his gold.” 

Theuma says he did not take the gold and got them another €30,000 anyway.

'Government panicking'

12.02pm The conversation is hard to make out, but Theuma can be heard raising his voice. 

“No, not you. It’s the other one’s betrayal,” he says (Le, mhux int. It-tradiment tal-ieħor). 

Fenech can be heard trying to calm Theuma down. 

The recording is stopped. Sant asks about Fenech talking about the “government panicking”.

Theuma: I cannot explain that. It was only me and Yorgen who would panic. At the time, I believed that Keith Schembri was involved. But I didn’t ask Yorgen to explain what he meant by ‘government panicking. Ask them, I don’t know.” 

Another recording

11.52am Another recording is played. There’s background noise, followed by silence. 
Then sounds related to cars – an indicator blinking, and a horn. 

Both Fenech and Theuma can be heard on the tape.

'I was afraid' 

11.48am  Sant reads out a message. Theuma was concerned about the murder. 

He testifies: From the day of the murder, October 16, a sort of blindfold fell off and I felt great remorse. (Għamad waqa minn fuqi dakinhar tal-qtil)

Theuma coughs and ends up breathless. 

He continues: Judge Mizzi had denied bail (to the Degiorgios). He was so desperate to talk to Alfred Degiorgio that he told Yorgen Fenech he was willing to smash a glass into someone just to end up in jail and speak to him (jagħti daqqa ta’ tazza lil xi ħadd biex jispiċċa gewwa.)

Theuma says Fenech reassured him and told him that was not needed, that nothing had changed. 

Theuma says he tried to arrange a prison visit to speak to Alfred Degiorgio. He felt that they were trying to get rid of him. 

“Once Kenneth Camilleri asked me to go to ir-Ramla taż-Żejtun, but I was afraid (to do so).” 

Sant: But did you ever actually see anything wrong? 

“No, never. But that is what I thought.” 

Information from Schembri and Valletta

11.38am Theuma asks about Muscat’s pardon. He says he knew he could get information from Keith Schembri and Silvio Valletta.

“That’s where Yorgen Fenech said he got his information,” he says. “But I can’t remember what Yorgen had replied on that occasion”. 

“I believed Keith Schembri was a big deal, and since Yorgen got information from him I believed that we would never get caught (qatt ma nispiċċaw ġewwa).

Theuma (right) with Keith Schembri at Castille.Theuma (right) with Keith Schembri at Castille.

Silvio Valletta visits Fenech 'for whisky' 

11.34am Another recording. It’s Fenech and Theuma at Level 21 (Fenech’s office at Portomaso). 

Theuma says (then deputy police commissioner) Silvio Valletta was about to visit “for whiskey”. 

At the time, the Caruana Galizia family was challenging Valletta’s involvement in the murder case. 

Fenech reassured Theuma “No, he won’t be pulled off it” (Le, mhux se jinqala’).

(A court had eventually ruled that Valletta should be removed from the case.)

Silvio Valletta. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaSilvio Valletta. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

"Fenech told Schembri 'I had no other way'"

11.28am Theuma: Yorgen Fenech told Keith Schembri “I had no other way” (Ma kellix way oħra) other than killing Daphne. 

Sant asks: Did Fenech ever ask him why he kept mentioning Keith Schembri? 

Theuma: I used to press Yorgen to make arrangements for bail. But he always replied ‘That guy (Schembri) hasn’t even sorted out his own issues in court!’ (Dak l-anqas tiegħu ma rranġa fil-qorti). That’s what he always told me.”

'Schembri leaked information to Fenech' 

11.25am Another recording. A female voice can be heard – it’s Theuma’s stepdaughter. Theuma says she had printed out the photo he had taken with Keith Schembri at Castille. 

Schembri is mentioned again in relation to bail. 

Sant asks Theuma why he mentioned Schembri. 

“I had a great relationship with him,” he says (Kelli rapport kbir miegħu). “Not a personal one, but he was the one who leaked information to Yorgen Fenech, who promised bail. That’s what Yorgen told me. If he lied, then I’m lying too.” 

Schembri sending Camilleri 

11.22am Theuma says there is another recording in which Fenech admits that it was Keith Schembri who sent Camilleri to his (Theuma’s) house.

'Did Kenneth fall from the sky?'

11.21am  Another recording is played. Children’s chatter can be heard in the background. Theuma and Fenech are in a moving car. 

This is the recording in which Theuma told Fenech that Kenneth Camilleri had visited him and told him about plans to get the Degiorgio brothers out on bail. 

[Who is Kenneth Camilleri?

Theuma tells Fenech that he will not be the one to carry the can and will take “his brother” [Degiorgios] to “Mellieħa”. 

[Mellieha is a reference to Keith Schembri, who lives in the northern town]. 

Theuma can be heard asking: “Did Kenneth fall from the sky?” [Kenneth ġie mis-sema?]

'I felt betrayed'

11.16am Theuma says Muscat’s lawyer was urging him to get a pardon.

“I felt betrayed,” he says. “Yorgen Fenech told me that [the lawyer] had convinced Muscat to tell all.”

Looking straight ahead 

11.11am The tape plays on. Theuma coughs rather violently. The three accused men look straight ahead, never crossing gazes. Muscat sits apart from the two Degiorgio brothers, separated by an armed guard.


11.09am Theuma: He [Fenech] had told me that Muscat had asked for a pardon and he explained how it worked. That you tell everything and get a reduced punishment, or none at all. Before that, I never knew about these things.

A pardon for all three? 

11.07am Fenech's gruff-sounding voice can be heard on the tape. 

“As if,” he can be heard saying [Ma tarax]. “Mija fil-mija” [One hundred per cent]. 

Sant says the conversation concerns a pardon for the three accused. Theuma had asked if all three men could get a pardon, but Fenech said no, that was not possible. 

Sant asks Theuma: You said that you weren’t aware of the presidential pardon mechanism.

Theuma: That’s true. I didn’t know about these things. Until my arrest, I never had any idea about presidential pardons. It was only when I heard about Vince Muscat divulging information [that he learnt of it].

Knowing the tape 

11.03am The tape continues. Sant seems to be very with the recordings – he knows exactly which parts he wants played and directs the court technician to specific points in the recording.

Tape played out 

11am The tape is played. There’s a lot of background noise on the recording. 
The recording is at Fenech’s farmhouse. 

“What’s most important is that we don’t end up in shit ourselves,” Theuma tells Fenech. [Aħna l-aqwa li ma niġux fis-shit aħna].

Theuma says the conversation was about the murder. Fenech had told him "what can you do?" [Xi trid tagħmel]. Theuma was afraid they would get caught. 

Lawyer Sant asks Theuma: Did he have any information at the time, to make him say that?

Theuma: No.

Court back in session

10.57am The court is back in session, after a short break necessitated by Theuma's frail condition. 

Theuma takes his place back at the witness stand.  

Five-minute break

10.47am Theuma's voice trails off. After offering him water, the magistrate decides to take a five-minute break. 

The mobile under the sea

10.42am Returning now to ex-minister Chris Cardona. "They found a mobile in the sea," Yorgen Fenech says on tape. "It only had Cardona’s number."

"Was it Keith Schembri who told you?" Theuma had asked Fenech.

"Yes," is the reply.

Fenech had told him that Alfred Degiorgio, nicknamed il-Fulu, used that number to communicate with Cardona. “If he lied, then I’m lying too,” Theuma adds. “I knew that Keith Schembri passed on information to Yorgen Fenech.”

As the tape is played on, there’s mention of the pardon. And bail.

'The mastermind is Yorgen Fenech'

10.38am Melvin Theuma begins speaking heatedly, amid murmurs form the dock, where the Degiorgio brothers are sitting.

"As far as I’m concerned the mastermind is Yorgen Fenech ta' Tumas. He was the one who ordered me. I swear under oath. I want to tell the truth," he says.

'It could bring the government down'

10.35am Theuma says the recording, just played out in court, was taken while with Yorgen Fenech at a farmhouse in Zebbuġ.

Asked if it was recorded in December 2017, Theuma says he doesn't think so because that was when the Degiorgios and Muscat were arrested and he only began to record Fenech when he was told Muscat was about to confess all. 

In the recording, Fenech told him that then Economy Minister Chris Cardona’s number was found on a mobile found in the sea.

"These are serious matters. It could bring the government down," Fenech had said.

Relationship with Edwin Brincat

10.30am Theuma says that Edwin Brincat, known as 'Gojja' had asked him for recordings of his conversations with Yorgen Fenech. 

This message was relayed on behalf of the former police commissioner, Theuma said.

Asked about Brincat, Theuma describes him as a "father figure". Asked if they had a sexual relationship, following an astounded silence, Theuma says "the answer is no."

Theuma, who is recovering from severe injuries to his neck following suspected self harm, began with a clear voice but is now hoarse.  He refuses a chair which the magistrate offered him when he entered.

A recording is played out but the sound is not good.

Lunch with Arthur Azzopardi

10.23 Theuma is now asked how he knows criminal lawyer Arthur Azzopardi. He says that he recommended a client to him, and had even lunched with him in Pieta.

At the lunch, along with another associate, Johann Cremona, they discussed Vince Muscat's pardon request. 

Lawyer Marc Sant asks Theuma about a text Fenech sent warning him to make sure he cleared everything. "What was that about?" Sant asks.

He said that was about former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar because Fenech had told him Cutajar had ordered his arrest. 

Theuma says that in his 48 years he never once spoke to the former commissioner. "I swear!", he says

'I drove them to the airport'

10.17am Melvin Theuma takes the stand. He describes his connections to Charlene Bianco Farrugia, the personal secretary of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Theuma says he thinks Bianco Farrugia was murder accused Yorgen Fenech's 'partner' and that he once drove them to the airport.

"Whenever I needed anything, about property for instance, I would tell Yorgen Fenech who would tell me that he would call Keith Schembri's secretary. I once even went to speak to her at Castille about a field."

Who are the main players?

9.55am Let's take a look at the key figures in this complex case. 

Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio, George Degiorgio: the alleged hitmen and the men in the dock;

Yorgen Fenech: a business tycoon and heir to a family fortune, who is accused of complicity in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder;

Melvin Theuma: a taxi driver who worked for Fenech and who has testified that he served as a middleman between Fenech and the alleged hitmen;

Keith Arnaud, Kurt Zahra: the lead police investigators and prosecutors;

Keith Schembri: a childhood friend of Fenech's and the chief of staff to Joseph Muscat when he was prime minister;

Edwin Brincat: a friend of both Melvin Theuma and former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, who acted as a go between for both;

Lawrence Cutajar: former police commissioner



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