An eight-hour court session centred around unheard recordings made by Melvin Theuma ended on a bum note on Wednesday, with a court ruling that the audio clips be played behind closed doors.
Prosecutors and lawyers representing murder accused Yorgen Fenech spent hours discussing the recordings and how to best present them in open court.
But at the eleventh hour, the court upheld a request by lead investigator Keith Arnaud to keep the recordings private, given that certain people mentioned in the clips had yet to be investigated.
His concerns were echoed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who said that somebody might end up dead if the recordings were played publicly. Azzopardi was representing the family of murder victim Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, who was due to face questions about the recordings, was told he would be summoned back to court at a later date.
The man in the dock, Fenech, stands accused of complicity in Caruana Galizia's 2017 murder. The case against him rests heavily on testimony and recordings provided by Theuma, who has secured a presidential pardon for his testimony.
Tension surrounding Wednesday's hearing was amplified by Theuma's shock hospitalisation on Tuesday night. Theuma was found with wounds to his neck, wrist and abdomen inside his home on Tuesday night, with police saying indications are that the wounds were self-inflicted.
Although Cutajar did not face questions about the recordings, he faced a series of questions from Fenech's lawyers regarding the decision to grant Theuma a pardon.
Cutajar dismissed suggestions that he had received money in exchange for granting Theuma a pardon, saying that anyone who claimed that was "bluffing or lying" and insisting that the decision to recommend a pardon for the middleman was made by investigators, not himself.
The former police commissioner also said that:
- His approach to Edgar Brincat [il-Ġojja] about the Theuma recordings led to nothing
- He met Theuma and his lawyers the day following his [Theuma's] arrest in November 2019
- Theuma’s pardon request was relayed to him by investigators working on the case
- Theuma demanded and obtained an MOU about the pardon, as a form of guarantee
- Theuma asked for a "Nationalist lawyer" when he was arrested, suggesting a number of lawyers who were also PN MPs
- Former economic crimes chief Ian Abdilla was among those who knew when Theuma would be arrested
As it happened
A damp squib
5.24pm Lawyers spent hours listening to recordings and discussing how to best play snippets of them publicly - only for the court to then accept inspector Arnaud's request to play them behind closed doors.
Lawrence Cutajar, who spent most of the afternoon waiting to be questioned about the recordings, will be called back to testify at a future date.
Lawyers and the magistrate remain inside the courtroom, but it's all over for members of the public and the press. It's an admittedly anticlimatic end to a marathon court session.
The case is expected to resume in eight days' time, on Thursday July 30.
5.17pm Bad tempers flare: Fenech’s lawyers again say it is unacceptable that nothing has been done in the nine months since the prosecution obtained these recordings, back when Theuma was arrested in November 2019.
It's looking like that 2+ hour wait this afternoon was all in vain - the public will not get to hear the recordings that have caused so many murmurs over the past week.
Recording to be played behind closed doors
5.14pm The magistrate accedes to that: recordings will not be played in open court since they might be detrimental to third parties and also in the interest of justice.
Cutajar's testimony is to be suspended.
Defence will have blood on its hands - Azzopardi
5.13 pm Parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi says that people might die if the recordings are made public. The defence team must should responsibility if that happens, he says.
'Prosecution has arraigned no one in nine months'
5.12pm Fenech’s lawyer Mercieca is up in arms. He says that while they agree to not play recordings where certain people are mentioned, they do not agree to all the recordings being played privately.
“The prosecution had this recording since day one, because Melvin Theuma gave them the USB sticks long ago. But now the prosecution say they still have to start investigating?”
Mercieca’s colleague Caruana Curran adds “the prosecution has arraigned no one in nine months”.
Arnaud suggests Fenech’s lawyers are playing to the gallery.
“Now that the media are back, the attitude changes,” he says. “The defence has failed to say that we have listened to a hundred recordings”.
Arnaud wants recording played privately
5.04pm Inspector Arnaud makes it very clear he does not want the recordings heard in open court, but says he has no problem with them being heard behind closed doors.
People mentioned in the tape have not been investigated, he says.
Another disagreement, another five-minute interlude
4.58pm While the two sides debate which recording is to be played out, magistrate Montebello goes back to chambers for another five minutes until they sort things out.
The magistrate says the court heard two recordings behind closed doors today and is willing to hear another, provided third-party interests are safeguarded.
Inspectors Arnaud and Zahra and lawyers from the attorney general's office are now poring over transcripts of the recordings, to make sure there are no names that should not be disclosed in open court.
Cutajar to continue testifying
4.52pm Court is back in session and Cutajar will now face further questions from defence lawyers.
The magistrate asks Fenech's lawyers to pick one recording [there are eight] to question the witness about.
Inspector Arnaud again expresses concern about people being endangered if their name is heard in open court. Fenech's lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran suggests fast-forwarding through any such instances.
Courtroom open again
4.37pm After more than two hours, journalists and witness Lawrence Cutajar are allowed back into the courtroom.
The court has ordered a brief recess before the session resumes.
Update on Melvin Theuma's condition
4.26pm Health Minister Chris Fearne has said that as of noon, Theuma was in a "critical but stable" medical condition.
Fearne declined to provide any further details, citing privacy concerns, and said he hoped Theuma recovered for his own sake and to ensure he continued to serve as a state witnes.
Fearne was answering a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami.
More trouble in the PN
4.20pm Adrian Delia called a parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Melvin Theuma incident - but it ended badly.
MP Therese Comodini Cachia walked out of the meeting after he refused to discuss his party leadership during the meeting. Four other PN MPs followed her.
Comodini Cachia has been proposed as an alternate opposition leader to Delia and also serves as a lawyer to the Caruana Galizia family.
Claire Caruana has the full story.
AD and PD want Europol involved
3.35pm Alternattiva Demokratika and the Democratic Party have issued a joint statement about Theuma's hospitalisation, calling on police to "establish the full facts as quickly as possible".
The two political parties also want foreign investigative agencies to play a bigger role in the Caruana Galizia case.
"The police need the support of the international investigative authorities at this stage, including a Joint Investigative Team with Europol and continued involvement of the FBI," they said.
"The cases related to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are a fundamental test for our democracy – a test we simply cannot afford to fail."
Where is the Prime Minister? - Delia
3.27pm We've heard from the police commissioner and from Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia following Tuesday night's dramatic events - but not a peep from the government so far.
Delia has now highlighted that silence, writing "15 hours later & no sign of the Prime Minister & Home Affairs Minister. The nation is shocked... The institutions failed yet again. We demand that responsibilities are shouldered."
Almost one hour in...
3.20pm ... and the courtroom remains shut to the public and media. Lawyers and the magistrate were initially meant to listen to a single, 27-minute long recording. Could they be listening to others, too?
A statement from Melvin Theuma's lawyers
2.38pm Meanwhile, Melvin Theuma’s lawyers have sent us a statement.
Here it is in full, translated from Maltese:
“In view of allegations made by the defence about the alleged sequence of events between the last hearing and today, Melvin Theuma’s lawyers declare that claims about his alleged state of panic during the previous session are unfounded and gratuitous, intended solely to try and damage a witness who has testified and is still testifying against him. An inquiry is under way and the defence’s conclusions at this stage are unacceptable.
"It was Melvin Theuma himself who handed these recordings to the inquiring magistrate on the day of his arrest. It is his own evidence, which he handed himself to the court."
[Earlier in the court hearing, Fenech's defence lawyers had infuriated Theuma's lawyers by claiming some recordings had been "hidden" and that their client was "panicked" when they were hinted at last week.]
Recording played behind closed doors
2.22pm The 27-minute recording is currently being played behind closed doors.
Excerpts from recording to played in open court
2.16pm Lawyers have agreed on the way in which recordings will be played.
One tape, 27 minutes long, will be played in full behind closed doors. Then relevant parts from it will be played out to Cutajar in open court.
This will ensure that names of third parties unrelated to this case are not prejudiced.
What we've learnt from Cutajar's testimony
2.10pm Lawyers are thrashing out details about how previously inaccessible recordings are to be played in court. Meanwhile, here's a recap of the key points from Lawrence Cutajar's testimony so far.
Cutajar said that:
- Anyone claiming to have handed him money for Theuma’s pardon “is bluffing or lying”
- His approach to Edgar Brincat [il-Ġojja] about the Theuma recordings led to nothing
- His decision to hold off on arresting Theuma was “the greatest decision in Malta”
- Cutajar met with Theuma and his lawyers the day following his [Theuma'] arrest in November
- Theuma’s pardon request was relayed to him by investigators working on the case
- The report advising a pardon was prepared by investigators, not himself
- Theuma demanded and obtained an MOU about the pardon, as a form of guarantee
- Theuma asked for a "Nationalist lawyer" when he was arrested, suggesting a number of lawyers who were also PN MPs
- Ian Abdilla was among those who knew when Theuma would be arrested
Lawyers want recordings to be heard
1.52pm Defence lawyers say they would now like recordings to be played.
Inspector Arnaud says that the recordings should be heard behind closed doors, as the names of “certain people” are mentioned in them and their safety might be at risk.
He says that he received the recordings from Europol yesterday and has listened to them, at least partially.
The magistrate retires to chambers while the issue is sorted out.
Defence lawyer: prosecution has evidence of tip-off
1.50pm Mercieca fires off a series of rapid questions and claims the prosecution had direct evidence that the former police commissioner had tipped off Theuma.
There's a legal tussle over the questions.
Was money exchanged for a pardon?
1.43pm “Do you know if any money was handed over for the pardon?” Cutajar is asked.
“If anyone said so, it is clear he is either bluffing or lying,” Cutajar says, referring to Theuma.
[Last week, Fenech’s lawyers asked Theuma whether he had paid Cutajar €30,000].
Cutajar says he read news reports that Theuma said under oath that he had bluffed when speaking about him [Cutajar].
Cutajar's 'minimal role'
1.39pm Cutajar first tells the court that he shouldered responsibility for the decision to go after the recordings, but then adds that he played a “minimal role in the investigation”.
“And yet you decided to take that chance,” Fenech’s lawyers note.
Cutajar is asked if he has text messages he exchanged with Brincat, but says he does not.
A second meeting with Brincat
1.35pm During that first meeting, Brincat told him he knew nothing, Cutajar says.
“Perhaps he told me that he’d ask Theuma if he got the opportunity. But after that, Brincat kept ignoring me,” he says.
Cutajar says he and Brincat met again in early November at his [Cutajar’s] house. Brincat told him that he had never found the opportunity to ask Theuma about the recordings.
“His attitude indicated that my attempts had been for nothing,” he says.
Cutajar says he had not told investigators about this second meeting, confident that "whatever happened, Melvin Theum would not destroy the recordings".
'I had an opportunity like that...'
1.31pm Cutajar is asked whether he and Ġojja discussed Theuma’s pardon, money for the pardon or places which police would be raiding.
“No. We talked about nothing particular, about other things not related to this case” Cutajar says.
Cutajar says that when it came to the recordings, he asked Gojja about them “point blank”.
“Yes, I asked him about the recordings. I'd obviously do that, I had an opportunity like that!” [Mhux ovvja li tagħmel hekk, għandek ċans bħal dak!]
'I took the greatest decision in Malta'
1.28pm “I took the greatest decision in Malta,” Cutajar says, saying he chose, on investigators’ advice, to continue investigating Theuma.
“Was that before you met Ġojja? Did he call you before he visited?”
Cutajar says he thinks Ġojja had shown up at his door unannounced.
“When Ġojja came by, I acted on the spur of the moment. I took a chance! Since I knew that Ġojja knew Theuma, I decided to ask about the recordings”.
When did Cutajar learn of Theuma's recordings?
1.23pm Cutajar says he knew Brincat since the 80s and 90s, when he [Cutajar] was an officer stationed in Birżebbuġa. Later, he came across Brincat in Marsa, where he [Brincat] ran a betting shop.
“Did you know his friends? Did you know Melvin Theuma?”
“Theuma used to help Edwin with his business”.
“When did you get to know about the [Theuma] recordings?”
“Some months before May 2019 [when Cutajar met il-Ġojja]. There was a firm suspicion that Theuma was recording someone”.
There were disagreements on how to proceed, he says. Should police arrest Theuma, or wait?
Cutajar on meeting il-Ġojja
1.19pm Cutajar is asked about his meeting with Edgar Brincat [a friend of Theuma’s, known as il-Ġojja]
“It was May 2019. He was somewhat agitated and upset. He had a traffic fine and was worried. He insisted that he had not been driving the car, but he had been summoned as the accused, while the person who was actually driving was a witness”.
[Cutajar spoke about this meeting in an exclusive interview with Times of Malta last month.]
'Arnaud or Zahra relayed pardon request'
1.15pm Cutajar says he was not present when Theuma was arrested. He says the middleman’s pardon request was relayed to him by investigators.
“Probably [inspector Keith] Arnaud. It was either Arnaud or [inspector Kurt] Zahra,” he says.
'Theuma wanted a Nationalist lawyer'
1.12pm Mercieca: “What led you to conclude that Theuma’s information was true and reliable?”
“I didn’t conclude that,” Cutajar replies, “the investigators did”.
“So you never actually heard the information yourself?”
Cutajar is getting irritated.
“Investigators did. I’ve been saying this over and over," he says. "Theuma did not ask me about the pardon".
"Did he [Theuma] ask for you when he was arrested?"
"Not as far as I know".
"Who did Theuma ask for?"
"How do you know?"
"Because I was informed. He asked for Simon Busuttil, Jason Azzopardi, Beppe Fenech Adami... what was certain was that he wanted a Nationalist lawyer!"
Speaking to Theuma off the record
1.10pm Cutajar says he and investigators spoke to Theuma for around two or three hours off the record, with Theuma’s lawyers present. The crux of the deal was that Theuma would tell the whole truth and provide informal details which could lead to the case being solved.
Cutajar adds that he was not present when Theuma’s formal, on the record interrogation took place.
Who knew of Theuma's arrest date?
1.05pm Mercieca asks Cutajar who knew about the date of Theuma’s arrest before it happened.
“I believe [former economic crimes unit chief] Ian Abdilla was there at the time,” the witness says.
Cutajar says that he was “sometimes present” when Theuma was being interrogated.
“I don’t exclude that I might have been in the control room and heard some snippets of his interrogation. But I was not involved at all,” he says.
Pardon drafted between November 15 and 25
1pm A draft pardon for Theuma was drawn up between November 15 and 25 by the attorney general, Cutajar says.
[On November 19, Joseph Muscat told the press that the middleman had been offered a conditional pardon]
12.57pm Cutajar says that prior to November 14, there were various meetings at OPM concerning investigations.
Apart from investigators and the attorney general, prime minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri were present.
“Just those [people]? Anyone else?”
“I’m sure, nobody else,” Cutajar says.
Cutajar says he had nothing to do with the report advising a pardon for Theuma, which he says was prepared by officers and then given to the attorney general, who came to Cutajar’s office.
Theuma wanted an MOU in writing
12.49pm Cutajar is asked about the Theuma recordings.
He says the recordings were not opened or played out in his presence and were handed to the inquiring magistrate.
“What had you discussed off the record with Melvin Theuma?”
"Theuma initially wanted a memorandum of understanding, in writing. It seems he was not trusting us," Cutajar says.
The MOU was drafted by the attorney general and signed by Cutajar and the prime minister [Joseph Muscat].
Theuma asked for a pardon
12.45pm More questions about the pardon by lawyer Charles Mercieca.
Cutajar confirms that there were meetings about Theuma’s pardon but says he doesn’t know how many.
“One, two… we spoke several times about the investigation,” he says.
Mercieca asks Cutajar whether he met investigators and the attorney general before November 15 [when Theuma spoke to them].
Cutajar says that there were meetings “even at OPM” about pardons concerning other people, “but we only started discussing a pardon for Theuma once we got hold of the recordings”.
"It was Melvin Theuma who asked for the pardon," Cutajar says.
Cutajar spoke to AG and investigators about pardon
12.41pm Mercieca asks Cutajar who he spoke to following last week’s hearing.
Cutajar says he did not speak to the people he was forbidden from contacting [Arnaud and Theuma] and says he spent the past days between his house and the Inter supporters’ club.
“Did you watch the news?”
“Of course,” Cutajar says.
Cutajar says he spoke to the investigative team - Arnaud, Zahra - attorney general Peter Grech and deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia about Theuma’s pardon.
Decision to grant Theuma a pardon
12.34pm Cutajar is asked how he decided that Theuma should be granted a pardon.
He says that Theuma had spoken to police off the record one day after his arrest [which he believes happened on November 14, 2019].
Cutajar says he's not sure about the date but he is sure that investigators had spoken to Theuma's lawyers to discuss some points of contention.
One of the issues was that the pardon was not to be valid for information provided off the record. Another was that it would extend to Theuma's family members as far as money laundering offences were concerned.
"There was a lack of agreement and the police were going to arraign Theuma," Cutajar says.
Cutajar on Theuma's pardon
12.30pm Cutajar is shown a copy of the pardon granted to Melvin Theuma. He confirms that his signature is on the document.
Cutajar's lawyer immediately interjects to say that since his client was a police commissioner, he cannot disclose information related to that office unless authorised to do so by the court. The court does so.
Cutajar takes the stand
12.28pm Cutajar takes the stand. He is warned that he has a right not to incriminate himself.
Lawyer Ezekiel Psaila is assisting him.
Court's final word on recordings
12.26pm The magistrate says that Cutajar will take the witness stand and be asked questions. recordings will then be played out and the defence will put further questions as necessary.
Cutajar is called to the witness stand.
Five recordings to be played in full
12.22pm Fenech’s lawyer Charles Mercieca indicates five recordings which he says are pertinent to the testimony. He also lists the order in which they are to be played out.
The magistrate says that all five recordings are to be played, in their entirety, before Lawrence Cutajar testifies.
The witness cannot be confronted with recordings not previously played in court, the magistrate says.
There's some more discussion about whether the recordings should be played in full.
Not all recordings will be played today
12.15pm We won’t be hearing all the previously-inaccessible recordings during this hearing, though.
The court says that only those indicated by the defence should be played today.
Each recording is around 30 minutes long, Fenech's lawyers tell the court. They suggest only playing snippets from them. The prosecution says that any snippets played must be taken into context, to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Recordings to be played to Lawrence Cutajar
12.12pm Defence lawyers say they want to play some of the recordings which they claimed were "hidden".
"Ideally these would have been played out to Melvin Theuma, but that isn't possible," they say. [Theuma is in hospital with what police believe are self-inflicted injuries].
The recordings will instead be played to former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.
Cutajar will testify first and then be confronted with the recordings, the court says.
Need a breather or have a health query?
12.10pm Need a breather from all the court drama or have medical concerns which you’d like an answer to?
Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci is answering your questions live on Facebook, right now. Join Gauci and our reporter Claire Caruana here.
Court to decide on request later
12.07pm Fenech’s lawyers continue to insist they should be given a copy of the data, as Arnaud argues his perspective.
The court says it will decide on the matter later in chambers.
'It's a matter of months'
12.02pm Arnaud tells the court that Fenech's defence team is not being denied disclosure - it will be given the phone data in good time to prepare its defence.
Phone data will be presented in "months," he says.
The court takes note of these arguments and says that the data in question is preserved in the records of the magisterial inquiry. Those records will be exhibited in the coming months, the magistrate says.
Fenech's lawyers ask for phone data
11.56am Fenech’s defence team asks the court to order Arnaud to hand over a copy of the data extracted from Fenech’s phone.
“At least he can give us a copy of the data extracted so far,” Caruana Curran says.
Fellow lawyer Mercieca cites a variety of judgements overseas concerning the right of the accused to access evidence that may exculpate him. The prosecution must present evidence both for and against the accused, he says.
The deputy attorney general objects to that request: the request must be filed in a separate court led by magistrate Neville Camilleri, who is leading an inquiry into the murder, he says.
Meanwhile, parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi says that they have not even been given access to Daphne Caruana Galizia's phone.
"There are 11 ongoing investigations linked to Yorgen Fenech's mobile phone," he says, arguing that the risk of investigations being prejudiced [if data is shared] is clear.
Who is investigating Lawrence Cutajar?
11.50am Arnaud is asked who is investigating former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.
“Don’t answer that question,” the magistrate instructs him. “It is not related to this case.”
[Cutajar is the subject of a criminal probe after he admitted to meeting a friend of Theuma's to discuss the middleman's recordings, without the knowledge of investigators Arnaud and Zahra].
Arnaud says he was authorised to speak to expert
11.49am Arnaud says he had court authorisation to communicate with the court expert.
He says he has not yet given a copy of that to Fenech’s defence team.
“What are you waiting for?” he is asked.
“The information is preserved in the magisterial inquiry. But the investigation is ongoing on all devices, not just on Fenech’s phone, so we are waiting to make sure that data does not end up in hands of third parties, prejudicing the case.”
Arnaud says he will provide the defence with a copy when ordered to by the court.
Murder task force and phone data
11.45am Data handed over to the police is accessible by members of the Caruana Galizia murder taskforce at police HQ, he says.
The task force is made up of around 12 people, though not all of them have access to data from the mobile phone. Select pieces of information can be shared with other units on a case-by-case basis.
Teams from the economic crimes unit and homicide squad are working to tag the data, Arnaud says.
'I cannot say how much more [data] is left to extract'
11.38am Arnaud is asked whether he’s in contact with the Europol experts. He says he is not – the data extraction experts are not the same ones appointed to work on the criminal investigation.
He tells the court that last night he was working on “information I was asked to bring last time” but that he had to drop that after he got word of Theuma being hurt.
Some data from Fenech’s phone was handed to investigators last December and more data was handed over during the COVID-19 shutdown period, but there is more.
"But I cannot say how much more is left," Arnaud tells the court.
Europol have Fenech's phone
11.33am Answering a question by lawyer Charles Mercieca, Arnaud says Yorgen Fenech’s mobile is with Europol, most likely at The Hague [in the Netherlands].
“It was photographed by a forensic team on site and either seized by them and passed to Europol, or taken directly by Europol”.
The phone has yet to be physically exhibited, he adds.
Keith Arnaud testifies
11.30am Inspector Keith Arnaud is called to the witness stand. He's asked to confirm the true copy of the presidential pardon exhibited earlier on.
He tells the court that the copy was given to him by the attorney general's office, "but I confirm that it is the same one used in the case of Melvin Theuma and the rest".
11.29am The court orders IT expert Cardona to provide the software needed to access the missing files.
The software in question is FTK imager, he says.
According to its website, FTK imager is “a data preview and imaging tool that lets you quickly assess electronic evidence to determine if further analysis with a forensic tool…is warranted.”
The software can also “create perfect copies (forensic images) of computer data without making changes to the original evidence.”
While you wait
11.24am Melvin Theuma was hospitalised last night after he was found wounded in what police say appears to have been an attempt to self-harm. He was critically hurt, but is currently in a stable condition.
Theuma was due to testify in court today and face questions under cross-examination.
Police commissioner Angelo Gafa told the press that Theuma had indicated to police that his wounds were self-inflicted and that there were no signs of a struggle when they found him.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia has appealed for calm and cool heads, while a couple of his MPs have demanded resignations.
The government has yet to issue a statement or make a comment about the matter.
What we've learnt so far
11.05am As we wait for the hearing to resume, here's what we've learnt so far this morning.
IT expert Alvin Cardona has testified that:
- There are 8 voice recordings on previously inaccessible folders
- The hard drive in question did not come with instructions on how to access the folders
- He believes a software issue was to blame for the recordings being inaccessible
- He never checked the files and only copied the folders he was instructed to
- He met inspector Keith Arnaud once, for the inspector to check recordings
Sitting suspended to decide on mystery recordings
10.49am Back in the courtroom: Superintendent Galea Scannura was due to take the witness stand to exhibit a document from Europol, related to accessing the Theuma recordings.
But that will not happen today, with the magistrate upholding an objection by the defence team, who want the Superintendent to testify at a later stage.
Lawyer Charles Mercieca asks whether the recordings in question will be heard today.
The magistrate suspends the sitting for a few minutes to verify whether the recordings are available today.
What did Melvin Theuma's neighbours hear?
10.47am Our reporter Jessica Arena spoke to residents who live close to the Swieqi residence Melvin Theuma was living in.
"I sometimes saw him smoking a cigarette on the balcony, but he would quickly go back inside,” one neighbour said.
Read the full story.
Arnaud 'checked recordings once'
10.41am Cardona is asked how many times he spoke with [lead investigator] Keith Arnaud.
“Once,” he says, “for him to check that all was well.” Arnaud only checked one file “for perhaps three seconds”, Cardona says.
Defence lawyers are getting agitated here.
Eight recordings on inaccessible recordings
10.34am There are around 8 voice recordings on the inaccessible folders, Cardona says.
He says there were no instructions on the hard drive about how to access folders.
The witness is asked [by Fenech’s lawyer Marion Camilleri] how many folders there are in all. But Cardona says he didn’t count them.
Camilleri: “Did you check all the folders to see which contained evidence and which did not?”
Cardona: “I didn’t open the files, all I did was copy the folders. I wasn’t asked to do so”.
He tells the magistrate that he discovered the new information at 2pm yesterday and that he copied the folders indicated to him by the court.
"I stuck to my brief," Cardona says.
A software issue to blame
10.30am Zahra asks the witness what he says to people who are alleging that he deleted files, but the magistrate won’t allow that question. It’s inadmissable, she says.
Instead, the magistrate asks the witness when he accessed the hard drive and whether he noted any change in the files.
Cardona: It could be that new files were created every time files were accessed.
Magistrate: So was it simply a software issue that prevented access to the files?
Cardona: Yes. Nothing had changed.
'Files were not missing'
10.21am Cardona says that he discovered yesterday that another type of file was on the hard drive. He says that reports that the files were "missing" were not correct, and then goes into technical details about the extraction process.
He says Europol used two types of software to extract data - files ending with 'e01' could not be accessed using just the one type of software.
IT expert testifies
10.18am Court expert Alvin Cardona takes the witness stand.
Cardona was responsible for copying data related to the case. He is asked by the magistrate to explain how he did so.
Cardona says he copied and pasted the folders requested, and not all the data on the hard drive.
Inspector Zahra: “Did you see what the folders contained?”
Cardona: “No, I just copied them, I didn’t see what was in them”.
Redactions to Theuma's pardon
10.15am Inspector Zahra is presenting a copy of Theuma's presidential pardon, and parts of it have been blacked out.
Theuma's pardon is also tied to him providing evidence about other cases, the attorney general's office has said, and the magistrate has previously said that parts of the pardon unrelated to the Caruana Galizia case can be redacted.
Fenech's lawyer Mercieca wants to know who decided which parts of the document to redact. Inspector Zahra tells him he'd best ask inspector Keith Arnaud.
'We have a trial by media'
10.10am Melvin Theuma's lawyer, Kathleen Grima, says she would like to rebut allegations made against her client. The magistrate tells Grima that while she appreciates the situation, the lawyer has no locus standi [legal standing].
"Then we will go to the papers and make our voice heard. Because here we have a trial by media," Grima says.
The magistrate isn't having that: she tells Grima that she [the magistrate] decides what statements are minutes, and that she does so "with great caution".
Europol to provide a statement
10.06am Inspector Zahra also objects to the choice of the word "hidden". He says that recordings were extracted by Europol and the agency is to provide a statement to that effect today.
A Europol expert will also be brought over to testify, he says.
Caruana Galizia family lawyer Jason Azzopardi also disputes the claim that recordings were "hidden". The problem was one of data extraction, he says.
'Theuma was to testify about recordings hidden by police'
9.56am Fenech's lawyer Charles Mercieca tells the court that Theuma was due to testify today "about recordings which were hidden by the police".
The magistrate won't take that, though. She says that recordings cannot be said to be hidden - they were "not found".
'Arnaud met court expert without authorisation'
9.50am Lawyer Caruana Curran, representing Fenech, wants to minute two things in the court record.
He tells the court that inspector Keith Arnaud met court expert Alvin Cardona without authorisation on January 30. [Cardona is due to testify today in relation to audio recordings made by Theuma].
Caruana Curran also tells the court that they are very concerned by what happened last night and notes that Theuma seemed "panicked" when undisclosed recordings were mentioned last week. He asks for a transparent inquiry into the matter.
Court in session, Theuma's pardon presented
9.48am Magistrate Rachel Montebello begins the session. Inspector Kurt Zahra immediately presents the court with a copy of Melvin Theuma's presidential pardon, following a ruling to that effect earlier this week.
Theuma indicated he hurt himself
9.45am We're still waiting for the court case to begin - people who are standing have been asked to leave, so the sitting can begin.
Meanwhile, police commissioner Gafà has told the press that Theuma indicated to police who found him in a pool of blood that he had inflicted the wounds on himself. There was no sign of a defensive wound or struggle, he added.
Police press conference
9.41am Meanwhile, police are holding a press conference to provide more details about Theuma and the circumstances in which he was found.
That press conference is happening at police headquarters in Floriana and is being led by police commissioner Angelo Gafà. Watch it here.
'His phone was engaged then he didn't answer'
9.38am We have some more details about Theuma’s movements on Tuesday, before he was found wounded inside his home.
The middleman was prepping for today’s court session together with his lawyer until 6pm, sources tell us.
"Theuma usually calls the lawyer when he arrives home, but this time he failed to do so. His phone was first engaged and then he did not answer,” a source told us.
Fenech in court
9.29am The man in the dock, Yorgen Fenech, is now in court. His lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca immediately approach him for a word, while four guards look on.
Fenech's wife and other relatives are here too.
Court fills up
9.25am Fenech's lawyers are present, as are some relatives of Daphne Caruana Galizia's. Cutajar, who is due to testify today, was seen pacing the law court corridors just after 9am.
Meanwhile, down the corridor
9.20am We’re outside hall 19 at the Valletta law courts. Just down the corridor, in hall 22, judge Edwina Grima is hearing the preliminary pleas to trial in the case concerning the three alleged murder hitmen.
9.15am Good morning and welcome to this live blog. It's been a hectic and troubling night for police investigators following Theuma's shock hospitalisation last night.
We're told Theuma is in a critical condition but could pull through. He obviously will not be cross-examined today, and instead we expect to hear from former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, as well as a court expert about audio recordings seized as part of the case - if the court case is not put off.
A hearing of the public inquiry into the Caruana Galizia murder, which was scheduled for this morning, has been postponed. We'll see whether this hearing goes ahead as planned.
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