Yorgen Fenech and Melvin Theuma have drawn their legal daggers on each other as the trial of the businessman charged with complicity in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder looms.

The lawyers for self-confessed middleman Theuma and the business tycoon have written to the police and to the president respectively, accusing each of shifting blame and lying.

Theuma’s lawyers said Fenech’s call for police to prosecute him for perjury was only intended to attack the credibility of the star witness and shift the focus away from the businessman’s own admission of involvement in the murder.

Within hours, it was learnt that Fenech’s lawyers had written to President George Vella, accusing Theuma of inconsistency, omitting facts and telling lies to secure the pardon under which he is bound to tell the truth.

After his arrest in November 2019, Theuma obtained a presidential pardon to tell all about the murder of the journalist, which he admitted to coordinating upon orders from Fenech. The business tycoon has also asked for a pardon.

“No one would ask for a presidential pardon… if he is innocent,” Theuma’s lawyers argued in a criminal complaint filed at the Valletta police station last Friday after Fenech’s attempt to have Theuma prosecuted for perjury.

Last week, the businessman, who is awaiting trial for alleged complicity in the 2017 assassination, formally called upon police authorities to take criminal action against Theuma over his “half-truths” and “blatant lies” when testifying under his pardon.

“That report was lodged when Yorgen Fenech knows that Melvin Theuma is innocent,” said the middleman’s lawyers, calling upon the police to prosecute Fenech for calumny and moral violence against Theuma, who will testify again at the businessman’s trial.

The lawyers argued that Fenech’s move to have Theuma prosecuted for perjury was meant to drum up a “wrongful and untruthful campaign” against the credibility of the witness who had always told “the whole truth”.

When testifying during the criminal proceedings so far, Theuma has “repeatedly and categorically” declared that Fenech was the mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination.

Last week, Fenech alleged that every reference by Theuma to his involvement in the murder plot was a total fabrication.

Theuma’s lawyers reiterated that Fenech was the one who had directed Theuma to deliver instructions and money to the hitmen.

Voice recordings ‘proof of admission’

This fact was supported by Theuma’s own secretly recorded conversations with Fenech as well as a series of Signal messages exchanged between the two, they said.

Those same voice recordings and messages cited by Fenech when calling for Theuma’s prosecution for perjury were proof of the businessman’s own admission of involvement in the murder.

During one conversation, Fenech expressed hurt after discovering that Theuma had been recording him. Theuma said he was doing so since he was the only link to the hitmen and feared that he would end up in trouble if the Degiorgio brothers were to speak out.

Alfred and George Degiorgio, together with Vince Muscat, allegedly planted and activated the car bomb that killed the journalist.

Muscat has since confessed and is serving a 15-year jail term following plea bargaining in exchange for information about the murder.

Fenech also admitted that after Theuma had asked for a €30,000 upfront deposit for the hitmen, he had handed over the full sum of €150,000, Theuma’s lawyers said.

As their conversations turned to Keith Schembri (the former OPM chief of staff), Fenech said his “friend” had “gone cold” (kesaħ) when told about the businessman’s involvement in the murder.

The middleman was also greatly troubled about the issue of bail for the three hitmen, especially after Keith Camilleri, former security at OPM, had turned up outside his home with the promise of bail.

Unless that promise was fulfilled, Theuma feared great trouble for himself.

He frequently brought up this matter when talking to Fenech who confessed that, although he could do nothing about bail, he would not live with his conscience if anything were to happen to Theuma.

Such recorded declarations by the businessman clearly showed Theuma was not making things up by saying that Fenech was the mastermind in the murder, the lawyers argued.

“Keep strong. Once this is over we’ll rest God willing once and for all… If we remain focused it will be over 100%,” texted Fenech, seeking to reassure Theuma on the very eve of the middleman’s arrest.

Those Signal messages, screenshots of which were preserved by Theuma, proved that Fenech was involved in the murder and that Theuma’s testimony was “the truth”.

“Rest assured I’m untouchable…. you’re my only worry, as for the rest, no one can mess around with me,” texted Fenech.

If, as he claims, Theuma’s allegations about him are fabricated, then why would Fenech seek a pardon and move on to institute civil proceedings in court to have the cabinet’s refusal reviewed.

All this showed it was Fenech’s own criminal complaint that was “false”, amounting to a calumnious accusation and “blatant intimidation” of the middleman who is to testify again at the trial.

While calling for police action against Fenech, Theuma’s lawyers reserved the right to take all necessary steps once a copy of last week’s criminal complaint, so far gleaned through media reports, has been made available to them.

New recordings paint ‘different picture’

Fenech’s lawyers hit back within hours and accused Theuma of lying when giving his version on the murder, leaving out particularly important facts about the “actual masterminds and conspirators”.

The lawyers once again stressed that Fenech “categorically denied” seeking, ordering or paying for the murder as alleged by Theuma, adding that the middleman had left out and lied about “important facts”, particularly as far as involvement of the “actual masterminds and conspirators” was concerned.

The pardon granted on November 25, 2019, was also subject to the condition that Theuma’s testimony would be corroborated.

Rest assured I’m untouchable... you’re my only worry

It was a “notoriously known” fact that this corroboration was to be achieved through conversations with Fenech secretly recorded by Theuma himself.

However, more recently, fresh recordings that had previously been ‘hidden’ by Theuma came to light and they painted a different picture to that supplied two years ago for the purpose of securing a pardon.

This information was brought to the knowledge of the president who, along with a copy of last week’s police complaint, was also handed a USB containing the relative voice recordings and transcripts of testimonies mentioned.

There is no fixed date for Fenech’s trial, which had been expected in early 2022, as the court deals with a number of constitutional cases related to the murder.

Lawyers Matthew Brincat and Kathleen Calleja Grima signed Theuma’s criminal complaint.

Fenech’s letter was signed by Gianluca Caruana Curran, Charles Mercieca and Marion Camilleri.

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