An associate of Yorgen Fenech "knew everything from A to Z" about Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination, the murder middleman testified on Thursday.

Johann Cremona, who has not been charged in connection with the crime, was described as "Yorgen's postman" by Melvin Theuma.

Melvin Theuma was testifying in the compilation of evidence against Robert Agius, Adrian Agius, Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio who are accused of supplying the device that was detonated by remote control on October 16, 2017 to kill Caruana Galizia.

The group also face charges of killing lawyer Carmel Chircop in 2015.

"He knew everything, from A to Z. He knew that Yorgen was the mastermind, that the bomb was planted by three hitmen and that I was the messenger. He knew it all," Theuma told the court during an animated and often angry testimony.

Theuma says he had decided to start recording private conversations with Cremona because he saw him as "Yorgen's postman".

In an almost three-hour hearing, Theuma insisted that the Tumas businessman was behind the murder of Caruana Galizia and implied at one point that Fenech and Cremona were taking him for a ride. 

"One minute they told me I was to be arrested, the next minute that I wasn't. And Johann was also to get me a list of places to be raided from (former superintendent officer) Ray Aquilina and nothing came out of it."

He also said that Fenech and Cremona had once told him that former minister Chris Cardona had contracted the Degiorgio brothers to carry out the execution. 

Aquilina, a former Economic Crimes Unit superintendent was on Wednesday arrested in connection with alleged leaks from the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s murder. 

Theuma said that Fenech had promised to meet him outside police headquarters but instead was plotting his escape from Malta. He also spoke of a message he received from Fenech telling him to go to "the Maksars" because that was where the bomb had been manufactured.

Towards the end of the testimony, Theuma spoke of his desperation because of his link to the murder as a result of which the police had taken all his belongings.


Testimony suspended

11.20am No more questions for Theuma today. The testimony is suspended.

The magistrate asks the media to leave the court room. 

The next sitting is on May 4. 


Cardona's connection

11.10am Theuma's voice is breaking. He says he is prepared to bear the consequences of his actions but he cannot understand why his his family also made to suffer.

He is not clear in this part of his testimony as he makes reference to his hand and a hammer. Background: Theuma was in critical condition after a stabbing incident at his home last summer. 

Theuma says that Fenech had promised to have cheesecakes with him as he waited for his release from the police depot but instead "he took his yacht to flee the country."

Arnaud repeatedly urges him to calm down.

He goes on. Theuma says that Cremona and Fenech had told him that Chris Cardona had contracted the Degiorgio brothers.

Arnaud: "Did they tell you where they got that information?"

Theuma: "No. But Johann would say that he got information from (OPM staffer) Kenneth Camilleri who got it from Keith Schembri."

Theuma moves on to talk about the contents of the shoe box he was carrying upon his arrest.

"I didn’t let go of that box one minute. I made a pact with the inspector. That box would only be opened in presence of a magistrate and police commissioner.”


Tense Theuma says he has nothing left

11am Theuma says Fenech and Cremona began to tell him that he was to be raided over illegal betting operations. He received a letter from his bank saying his sanction letter is to be withdrawn. He started receiving mixed messages from Fenech and Cremona. 

"One minute they told me I was to be arrested, the next minute that I wasn't. And Johann was also to get me a list of places to be raided from (former superintendent officer) Ray Aquilina and nothing came out of it.

"And then what happened. They took everything! Everything." 

"They took my possessions, my cars, my money, arrested me, my daughter, my partner. They sent my children to Appoġġ. I didn't even have money for a coffee when I left the depot."

The magistrate tells him to take a break. Theuma is literally yelling in court. 


'He knew everything, from A to Z'

10.55am Theuma reiterates that he had planned to go to the police headquarters to reveal everything about the murder but pulled back. 

Another time he was heading to speak to Keith Schembri at OPM but turned back because of heavy traffic. 

"I wanted to tell him about the murder and to get him to call Yorgen who was not taking my calls."

And what does he know Johann Cuschieri (an associate of Fenech)?

"He knew everything, from A to Z. That Yorgen was the mastermind, that the bomb was planted by three hitmen and that I was the messenger. He knew it all."

Theuma says he recorded Cremona because he saw him as "Yorgen's postman".

"Cremona and Fenech told me about Chris Cardona. Even I used to agree that Cardona was involved. But under oath, I can only swear that mastermind was Yorgen. He gave me €150,000 to kill Daphne."


'I would have spoken up earlier'

10.45am Theuma says that were it not for Fenech, Cremona and Edwin Brincat (il-Ġojja) he would have spoken up about the crime much earlier. 

He recalls the issue he had with the fact the police would never believe him Fenech was the mastermind of Caruana Galizia's murder if he did not have any evidence. 

But Cremona would try to calm him down to stop him from spilling the beans and gain time. 

At one point, Fenech told him: "forget those three." 

He goes on: "Of course Yorgen wouldn't take the hitmen into account. They only know me. But Yorgen told me that the person who just passed on the message had nothing to worry about."

Theuma is told to take a second's break. He sounds tense and hoarse.

The Degiorgio brothers (left) and Vince Muscat (right), were charged with sparking off the device.The Degiorgio brothers (left) and Vince Muscat (right), were charged with sparking off the device.


'You are the mastermind'

10.40am That same evening, he went to Mario Degiorgio with the pledge of bail for his brothers. 

"But the 22nd came and went and there was no bail, and no million came along," Theuma tells the court.

Kenneth Camilleri later went on to hand him a scrap of paper with three phone numbers - one of them was Theuma's old mobile phone. 

Camilleri told Theuma he had a problem: "You are the mastermind of Daphne's murder."

Theuma hit back: "Oh no, I'm not. The mastermind is Yorgen."

At that point, he started taking recordings of his conversations. Only his partner and daughter were aware of the secret recordings.


Bail and a million each

10.30am Theuma says he knew Cremona as a friend at first. In summer 2018, Cremona told him he was visiting him at home. 

He showed up with Kenneth Camilleri, who worked at the Office of the Prime Minister. 

"I told Camilleri that he would have liked to get bail (for the Degiorgio brothers). Camilleri took a step back and called someone. I assumed he was calling Keith Schembri. He came back and told me to tell the Degiorgios that on the 22nd they're getting bail and a million each."

"I said 'are you serious?'. Yes," was the reply.


'Go to Maksar'

10.25am One day Fenech sent Theuma an ordinary text message saying: "Go to Maksar".

He was informed that Vince Muscat had told prosecutors that the bomb to kill Caruana Galizia had been manufactured at a Żebbuġ garage.

"I printed that message and handed it to the police when I was arrested," Theuma tells the court. 

He tells the court he has something new to divulge: "Yorgen or Johann Cremona once called me and told me that I was a free man. And that the police were closing in on Maksar. I never asked what they meant because I have no idea who tal-Maksar were."

Robert Agius and his brother Adrian.Robert Agius and his brother Adrian.


'Betrayal'

10.20am Court session resumes.

Theuma says Fenech once told him to go to his Żebbuġ farmhouse where he told him that Vince Muscat was speaking out about the assassination and that he had named him too.

Theuma says he was stunned because he had only spoken to Degiorgio and not to Muscat. That when the notion of "betrayal" was planted in his mind. 

"I felt Keith Schembri would help Yorgen Fenech to send me to jail. Yorgen used to tell me that he received information from Keith and (former police deputy chief) Silvio Valletta." 

Theuma went to Mario Degiorgio to warn his brothers. He called them in prison but they did not speak to him.


Fenech had promised bail

10am Theuma is repeating the money trail transactions in an attempt to buy the hitmen's silence.

He says Fenech had also promised to pay to obtain bail for the Degiorgio brothers. 

One time, the Degiorgios wanted €60,000 to send to the family of George’s partner abroad. That way, when they eventually got bail, it would appear that she was supplying the funds.

The magistrate calls a 10-minute break.

We've been informed that contrary to expectations, Vince Muscat will not be testifying today.


Re-routing money to hitmen

9.50am Theuma speaks of his fear after the murder to the extent he contemplated taking his life. He resorted to alcohol and drew up his final will.

He says he feared that Yorgen Fenech would kill him - after all he had forged ahead with the journalist's murder. 

Theuma says the remainder of the financial dues were settled after the murder. Alferd Degiorgio told him to keep €5,000. 

After the hitmen were arrested, he used to route €100 to each of them in prison through "Lolly of Ħamrun" in the first two months of 2018.


'Big raid looming'

9.45am Later, Fenech called him to tell him that a raid was looming to net the hitmen on December 5.

Theuma called Alfred Degiorgio and the two met opposite Busy Bee. 

There he sounded the warning: "There's a big raid coming."

Another meeting between the two happened at a Portomaso cafeteria. 

“He hugged me and told me ‘I won’t give you away, not even in 120 years'”

Theuma is asked to identify the men in the dock. All accused pull down their masks. 

He identifies George Degiorgio. (Alfred Degiorgio is not charged in this case)


The moment he heard about the murder

9.35am One day, Alfred Degiorgio told Theuma that a roadblock had upset their plans to murder Caruana Galizia. 

Theuma proceeded to the Marsa potato sheds. While Vince Muscat was making coffee, George Degiorgio told him: "she's proving difficult (to kill). But so many people had died, so will she."

Theuma said he was at Euro Disney with his family when he heard the news on TV that Caruana Galizia had been assassinated. 

"Suddenly I was gripped by fear. I was also sorry for what I had done. I feared I would lose my son."

When he returned to Malta, Theuma went to visit Fenech at Portomaso and told him he was scared.

Fenech told him there was no need to worry. 


Tracking Daphne

9.30am Arnaud asks Theuma what car Degiorgio was driving when they met at Busy Bee. 

Theuma says he has no idea. He recalls going to the Bidnija vantage point with Alfred Degiorgio in a wine-coloured car one day. 

After that, Fenech kept pressing Theuma to go ahead with Daphne's murder, claiming she was going to be releasing information. 

"He used to call me every two days and I would go to Alfred who would tell me to keep away from the (Marsa) potato shed." 

Degiorgio told Theuma they were having trouble tracking Caruana Galizia's whereabouts. 

Theuma says Fenech told him that Caruana Galziia used to frequent a cafe in Naxxar as well as a Rabat restaurant. 


'Fenech told me to go ahead'

9.20am Theuma was given a tour of Castille, had an espresso, took a photo with Schembri and with a Dom Mintoff portrait.

"Then he told me I had a job 'over there, look.' I was shown a building through the window. I went to that place next day. I met Tony Muscat. I told them I couldn’t report for work because I had a taxi to operate. I received cheques four or five times."

A few days later, Alfred Degiorgio and Theuma met again at Busy Bee. That was when he put the €150,000 price tag. 

This happened before the 2017 election was called. 

After the second meeting, he informed Yorgen Fenech about the price. 

"I will speak to you," Fenech reportedly told Theuma. 

Meanwhile, an election was called. Theuma handled illegal bets. Fenech gambled €50,000 on a Labour victory.

After the result was announced, Fenech called Theuma to tell him to "go ahead".

Theuma recalls something: "Hang on. After the price was agreed, Yorgen told me to keep things on hold." He informed Degiorgio and paid him €2,000 from his own pocket not to lose face. 

He says he went to Fenech with €300,000 in cash for his election bet winnings.

Some time later, Theuma drove Fenech to the airport. The businessman picked up a brown pouch from his car and told him it was the money for the hit.

There was €150,000 in the pouch - the next day he handed €30,000 to Alfred Degiorgio. 


Daphne was going to write a story

9.10am Theuma repeats the story he narrated in the case against Yorgen Fenech. He said some three weeks before the 2017 elections was announced he received a call from Fenech to meet near Blue Elephant restaurant.

Fenech asked him if he knew George Degiorgio and proceeded to say he wanted to kill Caruana Galizia because she was going to write something about his uncle Ray. 

Theuma says he called Darren Debono (It-Topo) to get the number and eventually got hold of Alfred Degiorgio. 

The two met at Busy Bee in Msida. The deposit for the crime was €30,000, forfeitable if the hit was called off. 

The next day Sandro Craus from the Office of the Prime Minister called telling him he was going to schedule a meeting with Keith Schembri at Castille. 

Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech.Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech.


Melvin Theuma called in

9am Melvin Theuma is asked into the court room. It is the first time that he is being called to testify in this particular case. 

He must first explain how he was handed a presidential pardon to testify in this case. Theuma says he was arrested in November 2019 and he asked to speak to Inspector Keith Arnaud, who told him to engage a lawyer. 

After he engaged two lawyers, he requested a pardon to tell all in connection with Caruana Galizia's case. 

He is told to give his account in the journalist's murder. Theuma sounds hoarse. Magistrate tells him to rest. 


Witness steps down

8.55am There is tension in the court room between the prosecution and the defence which objects to the line of questioning. The magistrate steps in.

The woman says there are two cars in her name, one of which is garaged at a friend's. 

"Who is this friend," the police ask. 

"I don't know. My husband would know," Bugeja replies. 

"What's the car number?"

Bugeja: "I don't know if off hand."

We're still trying to understand the context behind this witness who steps off the podium.


A car registered in a stranger's name

8.45am Witness Josephine Bugeja takes the witness stand. She is asked to explain what the police asked her about a particular car. 

She says the car was registered in her name but she had no clue who was using it. 

The police ask her if she recognises anyone in the room. The accused are asked to lower their masks. The woman does not recognise anyone. 

"This man was a friend of my husband. I recall this man was a dealer. My husband told me so."

Police: "When was this?"

Bugeja: "A year ago or so."

Police: "So you knew he was a dealer and yet you don't know his name".

Bugeja: "No I don't. My husband and I were having a coffee at Buġibba and this guy was there too. That was when husband told me to register the car in my name."


Welcome

8.35am Good morning and welcome to this live blog. Muscat, known as Il-Koħħu, is expected to be the main witness in Thursday's hearing. We are in hall 22, amid the usual tight security.

Adrian and Robert Agius have just walked into the court room. George Degiorgio is seen speaking to his lawyer.


Who's who

You'll likely hear many names today as this complex case unfolds. Here are some of the key courtroom players.

Robert Agius, Adrian Agius, Jamie Vella, and George Degiorgio face various charges related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Carmel Chircop. 

Vince Muscat has admitted his role in both murders and has turned state witness.

Alfred Degiorgio along with his brother George and Muscat are accused of planting and detonating the bomb;

Businessman Yorgen Fenech is accused of masterminding the Caruana Galizia plot.

Taxi driver Melvin Theuma has admitted being the middleman between the killers and Fenech and has been granted a pardon in exchange for evidence.

William Cuschieri is appearing for George Degiorgio.

Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo is presiding over the case.

Lawyer George Camilleri is representing the Attorney General while, Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspectors Shawn Pawney and Wayne Camilleri are prosecuting.

Vince Galea is appearing for the Chircop family.

Marc Sant is representing Muscat.

Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia represent the Caruana Galizia family.

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