Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was ordered by businessman Yorgen Fenech,  a self-confessed middleman in the crime told a court on Wednesday. 

Melvin Theuma’s testimony gripped a nation as people tried to piece together the macabre puzzle he revealed in court. 

That puzzle included being given a ministry job without asking following a Castille encounter with Keith Schembri and receiving a visit at home by a man named 'Kenneth' who used to serve as one of the Prime Minister's bodyguards.

The star witness’s appearance was undoubtedly the biggest news point of the day, but it was not the only one. 

Mr Fenech’s first scheduled appearance in court as a suspected accomplice to murder was put off when the magistrate in charge, Nadine Lia, decided to abstain from the case. 

Meanwhile, government MPs met in parliament to approve Budget 2020 estimates before starting their Christmas recess far earlier than usual, as Opposition MPs continued to boycott the House. 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat continued to weather calls to step down immediately. 

Long-time allies such as Cyrus Engerer have now gone public with their demands for him to quit, while EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen revealed that the crisis in Malta was one of the items on her commission’s meeting agenda. 

MEPs who came to Malta for a two-day fact-finding mission said they were leaving Malta with “serious concerns” about Dr Muscat remaining in office and the integrity of the Caruana Galizia investigation. 

The Prime Minister did not speak to the press, with his only appearance being in various selfies posted from parliament by his party’s MPs. 

Activists, meanwhile, are planning their next move and have urged people to show their support by attending a national protest planned for next Sunday at 4pm in Valletta.

As it happened

Time to say goodbye 

6.35pm  Activists are not gathering tonight and are instead saving their energy for Sunday, when they will be gathering at 4pm in Valletta. 

The day's key events are over, and we're now wrapping up this live blog and calling it a night. Thank you for joining us. We'll have a summary of the day's key events available at the top of this article in a few minutes. 


'Soldier of steel' no more

6.11pm Cyrus Engerer used to be one of Joseph Muscat's biggest fans. He even wrote the man's biography. 

But now he says the Prime Minister should resign immediately

Cyrus Engerer and Joseph Muscat.Cyrus Engerer and Joseph Muscat.

What's happened this week? 

6pm It's been another chaotic week of news concerning this murder case, with claims, counter-claims and revelations flowing in practically by the hour. 

We know it can be tough to keep up with all the various things that has happened, which is why Kristina Abela has put together this handy index of articles we've published this week about the case. 

If you've only got 10 minutes to brush up on the news, read this. 


How Theuma says he prepared Daphne's murder

5.30pm Melvin Theuma testified for roughly two-and-a-half hours earlier today, and large tracts of what he said were absolutely shocking. 

If you missed it, have a read of our account of his testimony.  

Activists hold up a placard and a portrait of murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia during a demonstration last week. Photo: Matthew MirabelliActivists hold up a placard and a portrait of murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia during a demonstration last week. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

(Almost) full House

4.40pm Labour MPs have been sharing selfies and group photos of themselves in parliament earlier today. 

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici shared this one a couple of hours ago. Evarist Bartolo is off in the background, taking a phone call. But where's Chris Fearne? 

Just a reminder that parliament is now in recess until January 20 - that's more than six weeks of time off. 


'Yet another reason Muscat must go' 

4pm The PN has reacted to reports that Muscat was exchanging text messages with Yorgen Fenech, even after he was informed that Fenech was a murder suspect. 

"The exchanges confirm how close Joseph Muscat was to alleged criminals," the party said.  

The Malta Independent reported that an OPM spokesman said that security services knew about the text exchanges. 

Here's a full story about the PN's statement.


What MEPs are worried about 

3.40pm An MEP delegation sent to Malta for a two-day whirlwind tour of meetings has concluded its mission. Here's what they said at the end of it all. 


Another national protest on Sunday

3.22pm Activists have another protest planned for Sunday. They'll be meeting at 4pm in Valletta. 

"Joseph Muscat has turned the nation's highest office into a pigsty of murderous mafia plotting," civil society group Repubblika said in a statement announcement the protest. 


Yorgen Fenech due in court on December 11

3pm Earlier, we revealed that magistrate Rachel Montebello would be leading the compilation of evidence against murder mastermind suspect Yorgen Fenech. 

Now we know when it will begin - on Wednesday, December 11. That's one day before Melvin Theuma is expected to continue testifying. 

 


A key missing detail 

2.35pm There's one key detail we missed in the rush of Theuma's testimony.

At 11.58am, we wrote how Theuma recalled that a 'Kenneth' who worked at the OPM had visited him at home. 

What we missed: Theuma told the court that Kenneth came with a second man, named Johann Cremona. We've now added that to the 11.58am entry. 


'Kenneth from OPM' was the PM's bodyguard

2.24pm Melvin Theuma mentioned two Castille employees in his testimony, apart from Keith Schembri.

One is Sandro Craus, who serves as head of customer care at the Office of the Prime Minister. The other is 'Kenneth' - Kenneth Camilleri, who worked as part of the Prime Minister's security detail. 

Read more about them. 

Kenneth Camilleri, who formerly worked for the Prime Minister.Kenneth Camilleri, who formerly worked for the Prime Minister.


More from the MEPs 

2.12pm MEP Birgit Sippel, who forms part of the S&D grouping which Muscat used to be a darling of, is clear.

“In such a situation you cannot continue as though nothing is happening. The situation is becoming toxic and change is needed, I think we can all agree on that."

Delegation chief Sophie in 't Veld shows she's brushed up on her Maltese politics. 

"He’s not been very generous with information on himself," she says of Joseph Muscat. "Maybe he could start by publishing the famous Egrant report."

MEP Sophie in’t Veld walks towards police headquarters, with MEP Assita Kanko behind her on the left.MEP Sophie in’t Veld walks towards police headquarters, with MEP Assita Kanko behind her on the left.


Civil service says it cannot find records of Theuma's job

2pm The civil service has issued a statement saying that it cannot find documents about Melvin Theuma's government job. 

Theuma told a court he was given a government job and paid despite never showing up for work. 

A check indicated that "Melvin Theuma’s name was not amongst those of persons who had been employed in the Public Service," the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary has said. 

They're now delving deeper, they've said. 

Statement about Theuma's government job.Statement about Theuma's government job.


Business sector wants Muscat out

1.46pm The Malta Chamber has issued some hard-hitting statements over the past few days. Here's another one

“The Prime Minister can bring an end to this stalemate the country has crashed into. Within the context of current confusion and instability, history will remember him for it,” it said.


Malta is on the EU Commission agenda 

1.35pm Shortly before MEPs held their press conference, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had one of her regular press briefings - and Malta was on the agenda. 

"I expect to a thorough and independent investigation, free from any political interference,” she said.

President von der Leyen was briefing reporters about the Commission's agenda - meaning Malta and its political crisis was among the very first things the von der Leyen commission discussed. 


MEPs have 'serious concerns' about Muscat

1.28pm MEPs are currently speaking to journalists. 

"We are very concerned with what he have heard and seen. There is serious pressure on the rule of law," they told reporters. 

MEPs said they have “serious concerns” abour Dr Muscat remaining in office as well as about the integrity of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation. 

“The next 40 days will be crucial. There has to be absolute confidence in the office (of the Prime Minister) and while he is there, there isn’t.

We'll have a full story with all their comments once the press conference is over. 


Wasn't me, says this Kenneth

1.17pm Melvin Theuma testified that a 'Kenneth' who works at the OPM had paid him a visit. 

Many were quick to conclude that he must have been talking about Kenneth Azzopardi, the personal assistant to former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

But Mr Azzopardi says it's a case of mistaken identity. 

“There are a number of Kenneths who work at Castille. It certainly was not me,” he told us. 

Mr Azzopardi says he has nothing to do with the case and that the “Kenneth from OPM” mentioned during Tuesday’s testimony must have been in reference to another person. 


MEPs to speak to the press

1.14pm An MEP delegation has come to the end of its two-day visit to Malta. They met with top politicians and officials yesterday, and academics, journalists and activists today. 

They'll be holding a press conference to discuss their findings and answer questions shortly. 

MEPs prepare to speak to the press. Photo: Claire CaruanaMEPs prepare to speak to the press. Photo: Claire Caruana


Academics get busy 

12.58pm As the nation was gripped by Melvin Theuma's testimony, university lecturers were making separate calls related to Joseph Muscat. 

A group of 300 academics at the University of Malta have signed a petition calling on Joseph Muscat to resign immediately or "be removed". 

Separately, a group of 22 academics have written to the Apostolic Nuncio, to urge Pope Francis not to receive Joseph Muscat when he comes calling on Saturday. They say it is a "propaganda exercise". 


New magistrate for Fenech's compilation of evidence

12.49pm We've just been told that magistrate Rachel Montebello will be presiding over the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. 

Magistrate Nadine Lia abstained from hearing the case earlier this morning. 


A timeline of a murder

12.39pm Melvin Theuma has just given his testimony in the compilation of evidence against the three men accused of carrying out the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Here are the key points as he described the timeline of an assasination:

• Theuma says he got a call from his ‘friend’ Yorgen Fenech around the time the 2017 election was announced and met him outside the Blue Elephant restaurant in the Hilton, St Julian's.

• Fenech asked him if he knew Alfred Degiorgio and said to him to find him “because I want to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia”. Fenech told Theuma that Daphne was going to be publishing information about his uncle, Ray Fenech. 

• Theuma met Alfred Degiorgio at a potato shed in Marsa and told him that a man wanted the journalist killed. 

• The two met again at Busy Bee coffee shop in Msida where Degiorgio asked for €150,000. They then went to meet Fenech, where Alfred Degiorgio explained the terms of the assassination.

• Theuma received a call from Auberge de Castille for a meeting, and was met by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and another man, who offered him a government job. Theuma never reported to work but was paid a monthly cheque. 

• After the election was announced, Fenech called him to "stop everything" but on election Sunday, the hit was back on. The next day, Fenech paid him €150,000 “for the assassination”.

• Theuma made reference to information he had received that the bomb had been manufactured at Maksar.  

• Theuma went with Degiorgio to Ms Caruana Galizia’s home overlooking the fields where she would later be assassinated. He says he only knew about the actual murder on October 17 when he read about it in the news.

• Theuma describes Fenech as the “only mastermind” and also that he was able to warn in advance about the raids that would see the Degiorgio brothers arrested. 

• Theuma says a man from the OPM named 'Kenneth' visited him at home and made a phone call. After the call, he told Theuma that the three suspects would be receiving bail. 

• Theuma said he would relay payments from Fenech to relatives of the three once they were they were in prison. 


Case adjourned

12.27pm Having spoken to the lawyers involved, she decides that the case is adjourned to December 12, with a following session scheduled for January 7. 

We'll have a summary of the key points mentioned by Theuma in his testimony available in a couple of minutes, in case you missed it and don't have time to read through it all. 


Not that Darren Debono

12.23pm Some readers have asked us why Darren Debono was mentioned by Theuma during his testimony. 

Theuma was referring to Darren Debono known as it-Topo, not the former international footballer who's made headlines over fuel smuggling allegations. 


Magistrate wants a private word

12.20pm The magistrate is not too impressed that the prosecution still has some legal paperwork to file concerning the recordings. 

“This will obviously take time. I would have expected them to be ready by now,” magistrate Stafrace Zammit says. 

The magistrate has asked for a word in private with the various lawyers and prosecutors. 


Will testimony continue today?

12.15pm Theuma will next be testifying about those recordings, prosecutors tell the court. The magistrate wants to know whether that can happen today. They're currently discussing the matter in court.  


Testimony suspended

12.11pm Theuma's testimony has been suspended. Copies of the recordings have to be presented as part of the compilation of evidence. 


Why did Theuma mention Schembri in his letter? 

12.09pm Theuma is now discussing the letter, revealed by Times of Malta on Tuesday, which was found at Fenech’s home. 

“I started thinking they would either lock me up or kill me,” he says. 

He says he included Keith Schembri in the letter because the promise of bail for the three murder accused had come from ‘Kenneth’, who worked at the OPM. 

“But I swear I only met Keith twice, as I explained before,” he says. 


 

Where did Theuma record Fenech?

12.06pm Theuma says he recorded Fenech in his car, at Level 21 in Portomaso and at Fenech’s Żebbuġ home. 

He copied three such recordings to a pen drive, wrote a letter and passed it together with the pen drive to Fenech. 

“I used a mobile phone on airplane mode and put it inside a sock or pocket,” he says. 


'I feared they were plotting to kill me'

12.03pm  Theuma says he immediately relayed the message to the three men behind bars at CCF.  

But as the days went by and bail was not granted, they started to grow nervous, Theuma says. 

Theuma says he confronted Fenech about ‘Kenneth’. 

He says he asked him who had sent him. “Was it Schembri?”

Fenech did not reply, he says. 

“I told him that if it was Keith (Schembri) I would take Mario Degiorgio right behind his front door in Mellieħa,” Theuma tells the court. 

Theuma says he was told to fear “those inside, not the ones outside”. 

“That’s when the fear really kicked in,” Theuma says. “I started to record Yorgen. I feared they were plotting to kill me.” 


'Kenneth from the OPM'

11.58am Theuma tells the court how he had a falling out with Fenech.

Fenech called him and told him that Vincent Muscat was giving information to investigators. He wanted him to warn the Degiorgios through their brother, Mario. 

Theuma says that after they rowed, he refused to take Fenech’s phone calls or answer his messages. 

Then he received a phone call from a third party, who said he was going to come over to his (Theuma’s) place to have a word. 

The man was called Kenneth, Theuma says, and he worked at the Office of the Prime Minister. 

He says Kenneth came to his house and then called somebody. 

“I suspected he was calling Keith Schembri,” he says. 

After the call, Kenneth told Theuma to go tell the three murder suspects that they would be getting bail “on the 22nd, plus one million each”. 

'Kenneth' was accompanied by another man, Theuma tells the court. His name was Johann Cremona. 


Theuma: 'I didn't get a single cent'

11.53am Prosecutors pepper Theuma with questions. 

“Did you ever ask why you had been given a government job?” 

“No.” 

“What did you get for the murder?” 

“Not a single cent.” 

“How come?” 

“Because he had befriended me so much beforehand. It was only later I realised I had made a mistake.”


Fenech was in rehab 

11.50am Fenech was being treated for cocaine addiction in Scotland, Theuma says. During that time, Theuma says, he paid the Degiorgios around €20,000 himself. 

“What could I do?” he asks. “Go ask his (Fenech’s) wife for them?” 

Theuma says George Degiorgio once wanted €60,000 for bail, and he wanted them in advance so that his partner, Anca, could send the money to her mother abroad. 

Mario Degiorgio would tell Theuma that they needed money for school fees and household repairs, Theuma tells the court. 

The money was always paid, he adds. 


Meat and ġbejniet

11.45am There were more requests for money, Theuma says. Each time, he would go to Fenech and then relay payments to Mario Degiorgio. 

Theuma says he even bought Mario Degiorgio a dog worth €5,000, and bought their family meat and ġbejniet (Maltese cheeselets). 


More money needed

11.44am Theuma went on holiday to the UK. When he returned, a third Degiorgio brother, Mario, met him in Ħamrun. 

Mario called his brother Alfred, who was in jail. 

Alfred told him that they needed €30,000 to pay their lawyer. 

Theuma went to Fenech with the request. 

“I was expecting this,” he says Fenech replied. 

Fenech gave Theuma the money, who in turn handed it to Mario Degiorgio. 
Shortly afterwards, another request for a further €30,000 came through. 

This time, Theuma says, Fenech paid €25,000. 

“He probably deducted the €5,000 for my holiday,” Theuma tells the court. 
Theuma says that after that, he began to fork out €200 a week for the accused,
rather than €300. 

“Vincent Muscat’s wife began to ask where the €100 a week was coming from,” he says.


'Yorgen gave me €5,000 to go on holiday'

11.38am Theuma says that he had started drinking heavily, and that Fenech noticed the change and began to worry. 

“So he gave me €5,000 to go on holiday with my family,” he tells the court. 

Theuma says he grew so concerned that he drew up a will and named his partner as his heir. That was “around one month after the murder.”


Passing money to prisoners

11.35am  After the three murder suspects were arrested, he continued to pay them €300 weekly - €100 to each of the three - sending them the money via a third party who in turn would send the money to Vincent Muscat’s daughter and another of the Degiorgios’ brothers. 

Theuma says that at this stage, he was paying the three out of his own pocket. 

“They needed money to get by, and I was worried they would reveal everything,” he explains. 

Theuma says he once showed Fenech receipts from Corradino Correctional Facility for these payments, but he said nothing. 

“I was annoyed,” he tells the court. 


Warning about the raid

11.31am Theuma says that Fenech had then warned Theuma that the killers were in trouble, “around December 5.” 

There was going to be a “big raid”, Fenech told him. 

Theuma relayed the message to Alfred Degiorgio, he says. Theuma tells the court that Fenech had warned him about the raid the Thursday before it happened. 

For readers – the raid happened on December 4, 2017.  That was a Monday.


Paying the balance

11.27am Theuma tells the court he met Alfred Degiorgio at a Birżebbuġa Marsascala garage some time later. 

Degiorgio wanted some additional money to cover the cost of binoculars and rental cars. 

Alfred came in a small, white rental car, Theuma says. 

“I gave him €125,000,” he says. That’s the €120,000 balance as well as the additional €5,000 Degiorgio wanted. 


'Yorgen was the only mastermind'

11.23am Inspector Keith Arnaud asks Theuma whether anybody else wanted Daphne murdered. 

“I can assure you,” Theuma tells the court, “Yorgen Fenech was the only mastermind. Only he spoke to me.” 

Fenech told Theuma not to worry about the FBI getting involved, he says. 
Theuma says he met Fenech in Żebbuġ around two weeks after the murder.

Fenech told him that trouble was brewing. 

“They’ve got the SMS that set off the bomb,” he says Fenech told him. 

When he told Alfred Degiorgio about that, Degiorgio told him not to worry. 


'What are you afraid of?'

11.20am Theuma says he only got to know that the murder had happened when he saw the news that day. 

“From that moment, I was overcome by fear,” he says. “I feared everything”. 

He called Fenech the following day, who took him to a private room at Portomaso. 

“Fenech told me ‘what are you afraid of? The local police are going to investigate anyway’”, Theuma says.


Keeping watch in Bidnija

11.16am Theuma says Alfred Degiorgio once took him to Bidnija by car and showed him Daphne’s home. He wanted to show him that they were working on it, he says. 

Theuma describes the vantage point, overlooking the fields in Bidnija where Ms Caruana Galizia would eventually be blown up. 

Alfred Degiorgio told him that he would spy on Daphne from the spot using binoculars.

Theuma says Alfred Degiorgio called him once and told him that they had planned to kill Daphne but had to abort the plan due to an unexpected police road block. 

Theuma says he had no idea about when the assassination was due to happen. 

“But around four or five days before it happened, I can guarantee that I could not reach Alfred on that mobile,” he tells the court. 


Daphne's haunts

11.13am Theuma says he piled pressure on Alfred Degiorgio. He says he once met the other Degiorgio brother, George, who said that Daphne was “troubling them”.

Theuma says Degiorgio told him not to say anything about the plan to Darren Debono it-topo, because he did not want him involved in it. Theuma tells the court he never spoke to Debono again. 

He recalls that Alfred Degiorgio wanted information about places Ms Caruana Galizia often visited. 

Theuma says he called Fenech, who told him that she was often at a coffee shop in Naxxar and a restaurant in Rabat. 

Theuma tells the court he had a mobile phone which he used exclusively to call Alfred Degiorgio.


'Hurry'

11.10am From there onwards, Fenech “bombarded” Theuma with calls, the latter testifies. 

He wanted the hit to be hurried along. Fenech was worried that information would leak. 

Theuma tells the court that at that point, he began thinking that it was Yorgen, not his uncle, who had information he did not want Daphne Caruana Galizia to publish. 

“He once told me, ‘Let’s make sure it doesn’t end up like Bone’s’”. 

The reference is to Romeo Bone, who lost both his legs but survived a botched car bomb explosion in 2017. 


€150,000 in an envelope

11.07am After that day, Fenech called Theuma and asked him to drive him to the airport. As he was about to leave, he handed over the money. 

“These are for the assassination,” he said. There was €150,000 in the envelope. 

After that, he reached out to Alfred Degiorgio again and gave him €30,000.  

Theuma says he is not sure whether he had placed the remaining €120,000 inside a BOV safety deposit box, or at his home. 


'I want to kill Daphne'

11.04am Theuma says that he was organising betting around the 2017 election results. 

Fenech placed bets, Theuma says, and he had paid him around €300,000. 

On election Sunday, the hit was back on. 

Fenech called me, Theuma says. 
“He told me ‘tell them to get on with it. I want to kill Daphne’”. 

Theuma says he did not take Fenech too seriously, because he sounded tipsy. 

When Theuma went to Fenech’s farmhouse to pay him his winning, Fenech did not mention the murder. 


'Stop everything'

11am Soon after the 2017 election was announced, he received a phone call from Fenech. 

Fenech wanted Theuma to tell the Degiorgio to “stop everything”.

Theuma says he met with Degiorgio, again at Busy Bee, to relay the message. Fenech had not given any money yet. 

Theuma says he felt embarrassed about that, so he shelled out €1,500 from hisown pocket.  

Degiorgio told him he hoped the mastermind wasn’t going to someone else with the job.


Monthly cheques

10.57am Theuma tells the court that he had met Schembri before, at a meal with the Fenech family. 

He only met him twice in total – once at the Fenech’s house, and once at Castille. 

Theuma says he began to receive a monthly cheque for this job, even though he never reported to work.

“I had told them I was a taxi driver,” he says. 

The cheque stopped arriving after the election. 


Schembri greets Theuma at Castille 

10.54am Theuma says he then received a call from Fenech, who told him to expect a call from Sandro Craus at Castille. 

Craus called, telling Theuma that he had an appointment with Keith Schembri.
“I was taken aback,” Theuma tells the court. “I had never been to Castille
before”. 

Theuma went to Castille. He was met by Keith Schembri, he says, who took him around, offered him a coffee and then handed him over to Craus. 

Craus told him that he was being offered a job at the ministry “opposite the old theatre”. 


Money upfront

10.52am The two met at the coffee shop, Mr Theuma recalls. 

Mr Degiorgio told Mr Theuma that he had spoken to his friends. 

“They wanted €30,000 upfront and €120,000 afterwards,” Theuma tells the court.

After that, Theuma went to meet with Fenech, he says. 

“It was either at Yorgen’s farmhouse in Żebbuġ or at Portomaso,”. 

He explained the terms to the businessman, and Fenech told him he would get back to him. 


Theuma meets Alfred Degiorgio

10.48am Mr Theuma says he got Alfred Degiorgio's number from Darren Debono it-topo. He called him and fixed a meeting for the next day at 2pm. 

They met at the Marsa potato shed [where the Degiorgios were later arrested]. 

He told Mr Degiorgio that a man wanted Daphne Caruana Galizia killed. 

Imma jħallas dan?” [‘But this guy pays?] came the reply.  

They agreed to meet two days later at Busy Bee in Msida.


'Go kill Daphne' 

10.45am Mr Theuma recalls how one evening he received a phone call from Mr Fenech. 

“Can you come to Portomaso? I need to talk to you”. 

It was around the election date announcement in 2017, he tells the court. 

Mr Theuma says he met Mr Fenech  outside the Blue Elephant restaurant. 

“He asked whether I knew Alfred [Degiorgio],” Mr Theuma tells the court. 

“I said yes.” 

He says Mr Fenech told him to find Mr Degiorgio “because I want to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia”. He said Mr Fenech said that she was going to publish information about his uncle, Ray. 


‘I knew Yorgen Fenech’

10.41am Mr Theuma is now talking about his association with Yorgen Fenech. 
He calls him a “friend”. 

We used to go abroad, he tells the court. They would go watch horse races in France. Yorgen would pay for everything. 

“Once when we were in France he told me that there was a person who had recorded him.” 

Mr Theuma says he initially knew Mr Fenech’s uncle, Ray, before getting to know Yorgen through betting. 

“I then rented a shop to him in Marsa. He used to let me operate my taxi at Portomaso. That made a big difference. It was a lot of business.”

There are only 10 fixed and authorised taxi drivers who can operate at the Hilton, he explains. Theuma was one of them. 


'Darren Debono and Alfred asked me to rent them a flat'

10.40am Mr Theuma tells the court that he knows the Degiorgio brothers and Vincent Muscat - the three accused. 

He first got to know Alfred, then his brother George and then Vince. 

He says a man named Darren Debono and Alfred once asked him to rent them a flat. He cannot recall exactly when that was, but he remembers the Isle of MTV concert was happening at that time. 
 


Melvin Theuma takes the stand

10.37am The Birkirkara taxi driver has taken his oath. 

The magistrate is explaining the terms of his presidential pardon to him. He is protected from prosecution, provided that he tells the entire truth. If he does not, the pardon is withdrawn and he will face prosecution. 


Legal wrangles

10.34am William Cuschieri, who is representing the Degiorgio brothers, tells the court that he had filed a legal objection to the pardon granted to Melvin Theuma. 

The Degiorgios want Mr Theuma's pardon to be revoked.


Grin and bear it? 

10.32am Labour MPs are all smiles as they take a selfie in parliament once the session is over. 


Caruana Galizias in court 

10.25am Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit's courtroom is filling up. Reminder: middleman Melvin Theuma is expected to testify.

Relatives of Ms Caruana Galizia's are present, as are the Degiorgio brothers, who are accused (together with Vincent Muscat) of murder. 

Inspector Keith Arnaud is present, as are the various lawyers. 

It's a packed courtroom. 


Why is magistrate Lia abstaining?

10.09am We have a copy of magistrate Nadine Lia's decree. 

In it, she notes that neither Mr Fenech nor the Caruana Galizia family had objected to her because they believed she had acted or would be acting with personal bias. 

But given that a number of witnesses were or had been officials at the Office of the Prime Minister who had previously been assisted by her father-in-law (lawyer Paul Lia), it was best if she abstained. 

Magistrate Lia also made it clear she's not too happy with the media. 

Some outlets claimed that she had decided she not to abstain from hearing Yorgen Fenech's compilation of evidence, it seems. "ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE", she writes. 


Parliament adjourned to January 

10.16am It's only December 4, but MPs are already on their Christmas holidays. 

Parliament has been adjourned until January 20 - that's around six weeks from now, and eight days after a new Labour leader is expected to be in place. 


In parliament

10.14am Parliament is in session this morning, though it's a fairly pedestrian affair, with Opposition MPs boycotting it for as long as Joseph Muscat remains prime minister.

Government MPs have just unanimously approved Budget 2020 estimates. 


No comment from Muscat

10.05am On Tuesday, Joseph Muscat said he felt 'betrayed' by his former chief of staff Keith Schembri, according to Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola.

Our reporter Ivan Martin tried to ask him about it this morning as he left parliament. He didn't reply.

Ivan Martin tries to get a reply from the Prime Minister.


Melvin Theuma is in court

10am The taxi driver has just walked into court, dressed in a blue suit. He arrived in an unmarked car, accompanied by two plainclothes officers.  

Melvin Theuma walks into court. Photo: Matthew XuerebMelvin Theuma walks into court. Photo: Matthew Xuereb


Why is 'trust' such a big deal within the EU?

9.57am Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld kept repeating the word "trust" on Tuesday as she spoke to reporters following a meeting with Joseph Muscat. 

"Cooperation is based in trust, and that trust has been seriously damaged," she said. 

She wasn't speaking casually, or even in riddles: Victor Paul Borg explains why 'trust' is a big deal in terms of EU law. 


When public space is no longer public

9.51am Somebody is raking it in while renting steel barricades these days. They've been used by police to limit access to large public spaces in the capital, such as the unfortunately-named Freedom Square. 

Architects and civil engineers are especially disturbed. In a statement today, the Kamra tal-Periti say that the barriers outside parliament appear to be a physical metaphor for the gap between the elected and electorate. 

Here's what the KTP have to say.

Police keep watch on protesters kept a good distance away from parliament using steel barriers on Monday, December 2. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPolice keep watch on protesters kept a good distance away from parliament using steel barriers on Monday, December 2. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina


Middleman due to testify 

9.45am As we source more details about the magistrate's abstention, our focus must also shift to another courtroom. Melvin Theuma, who is understood to be the middleman in the Caruana Galizia murder case, is due to testify at 10.30am. 

This is the second time Mr Theuma is expected in court. He was first due to testify on Friday, but that hearing was postponed on the police's request.

Mr Theuma has been promised immunity from prosecution in exchange for information about the case. 


Magistrate abstains

9.30am We’ve received word that magistrate Nadine Lia will not hear the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. She’s abstaining from the case, following objections by both Mr Fenech and the Caruana Galizia family. 

We’ll have more details about that decision available shortly. 

Mr Fenech was due to appear in court earlier this morning, but the magistrate postponed the hearing.