Updated 6pm with update on Theuma's condition
The state witness in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case is unable to speak after suffering damage to his vocal cords as well as multiple stab wounds in what police believe was a case of self-harm.
Melvin Theuma, the self-confessed middleman in the plot to assassinate the prominent journalist, was found in a pool of blood at his Swieqi apartment on Tuesday night.
The police in a statement on Thursday evening said Theuma remains stable and in intensive care.
The incident sent shockwaves through the country and initial speculation was rife over whether there had been an attempt to silence a key witness in the murder case.
But barely 12 hours after the incident, police commissioner Angelo Gafà told reporters that preliminary evidence pointed to the likelihood that Theuma had harmed himself.
There were no signs of a break-in or commotion and no drugs or suicide note were found in the apartment.
On Wednesday afternoon, Theuma was conscious after undergoing surgery to his voice box. He also had multiple stab wounds below the kidneys, a slit throat and cuts to his left wrist.
The incident comes at a major junction in the murder case against alleged conspirator Yorgen Fenech.
Theuma was due in court Wednesday to be confronted with evidence which the defence argue sheds doubts over the witness’ credibility.
Theuma’s testimony and the secret recordings of conversations he had with players in the murder plot have been described by police sources as the “lynch pin” holding most of the case against Fenech together.
In court on Wednesday, it was decided that previously unheard recordings taken by Theuma, that make suggestions of payments to former police chief Lawrence Cutajar, would be heard behind closed doors.
Gafà said that at 9.30pm on Tuesday the police found Theuma in the main bedroom of his Swieqi apartment, holding a knife in his right hand. At around 9.15pm, Theuma’s lawyer Kathleen Grima had called lead investigator Keith Arnaud to inform him that she was unable to get through to her client.
Arnaud then contacted the police stationed outside the Swieqi apartment block on Triq is-Sirk to provide Theuma with close protection. Gafà said the police were investigating and had seized documents along with Theuma’s phone from the scene.
Reacting to calls for a joint Europol-Malta police joint investigation team, Gafà said investigations were under way that stemmed from the main investigation into the murder. Europol continued to be part of that investigation, he said.
On Wednesday, the commissioner also confirmed that eight missing recordings allegedly made by Theuma had been found and police were listening to them along with Europol investigators. “There are eight recordings and so this takes some time. We are working with Europol on this,” Gafà said.
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