Keith Schembri’s ‘missing’ phone was found inside an evidence bag, sealed in the same condition as a court expert had left it when he last extracted data from the device, an on-site visit to the courts' exhibits room has confirmed. 

As scheduled early on Friday morning by Mr Justice Mark Simiana, the on-site check was conducted this afternoon in the presence of the court, the parties’ lawyers, the Court Registrar and judicial expert Martin Bajada. 

The whole process was minuted by the court. 

The exhibits were first photographed inside the grey recycling bag where Bajada had found them when he went to retrieve the phone to carry out the task set to him by the Criminal Court presiding over Yorgen Fenech’s murder case.

Bajada then opened the bag and removed the box inside in which all the electronic devices belonging to Schembri were stored, save for a bulky desktop computer that was placed separately inside the bag.

The expert pointed out that the box was wrapped around its circumference with tape which he had personally not put there. 

However, after removing that tape, Bajada confirmed that the sheet of paper with a list of all the exhibits stuck to the box with narrow tape was as he had put it previously. 

Beneath that paper was the ‘stretch and seal’ wrapping also placed by Bajada. 

A tear right across the width of the box was pointed out by the expert and photographed. 

The phone was inside a sealed evidence bag in the box.

Bajada explained that when he previously worked on that device he had cut across the lower edge of the evidence bag, then -after extracting the data- replaced the cut edge together with the phone and re-sealed the bag. 

That was how he found it today. 

Court Registrar lawyer Franklin Calleja also presented two photos taken by the former exhibits officer when the devices were consigned to him. 

That officer had put the desktop and box into one recycling bag to keep the items together in one lot. 

That bag was then closed in place with tape. 

The registrar also produced two documents which documented all movements of the relative exhibits. 

In light of that outcome, the judge revoked the ban whereby he had ordered that no one was to touch the phone pending further directions from the constitutional court. 

Bajada may now proceed with the task set out by the Criminal Court. 

A copy of the data from Schembri’s phone was requested by Fenech’s lawyers and subsequently upheld by the court. 

But the process was stalled when Bajada came across the exhibits not as he had last left them and flagged the matter to Madam Justice Edwina Grima who is presiding over Fenech’s case.

That information promptly triggered a reaction by Schembri’s lawyers who filed an urgent application before the court hearing the constitutional case.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Simiana ordered that no one was to touch the phone pending further directions and appointed an urgent hearing early on Friday morning. 

During that hearing, the court upheld a request by Schembri’s lawyers for an on-site visit to the court’s exhibits office to document the state of the relative devices, specifically Schembri’s iPhone, before the breach of rights case continued on the merits. 

The case continues. 

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