Daphne Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma and lead investigator Keith Arnaud testified in court on Wednesday as prosecutors began making their case against business tycoon Yorgen Fenech.
A court session which lasted almost five hours saw the middleman Theuma finger the entrepreneur for the October 2017 assassination and the inspector recount conversations between Theuma and Fenech, which Theuma had recorded.
Defence lawyers were incensed that the prosecution was allowed to present Theuma as a witness but not those recordings, which they believe are an important part of their case.
Fenech has told investigators that the prime minister’s former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, was behind the assassination.
The case continues on December 19.
Melvin Theuma said that:
- “for me, Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind”.
- he cannot under oath state that Keith Schembri ever handed him money or ever spoke to him about the murder.
- Fenech told him to hurry up the murder because “she (Daphne) is going to release my information”.
- Fenech told him Schembri could do nothing about getting the Degiorgio brothers bail.
- Fenech told him that Schembri had only gotten involved “because of me” (Fenech).
- He implicated Schembri in a handwritten letter because he knew Schembri and Fenech were close friends and he was worried that they would collude to put him in prison.
- He seriously contemplated suicide but the thought that held him back was the realisation that if he did that, he would only be doing Fenech a favour.
- He was convinced that he was going to be ‘eliminated’. He suspected Fenech would get Schembri’s help to throw him (Theuma) behind bars.
- Johann Cremona and ‘Kenneth’ (Camilleri) from OPM had gone to his house to discuss the Caruana Galizia murder.
Inspector Keith Arnaud said:
- When the police arrested Theuma, they found a plastic box containing mobile phones, two bundles of papers, a voice recorder, USB pen drives and SIM cards. One of the papers was a photo of Theuma with Keith Schembri at Castille.
- Police spoke to Fenech twice before they recommended giving Theuma a pardon.
- Theuma gave police recordings he made of Fenech.
- Fenech and Theuma discussed various aspects of the murder, from the money that changed hands to Daphne’s “4,000” enemies.
- That Theuma was ‘obsessed’ with getting bail for the three alleged Caruana Galizia killers.
- That Fenech reassured Theuma by telling him he would speak to Keith Schembri about the bail issue and also relayed information about the investigation to Theuma.
- That Fenech told Theuma that Schembri had promised ‘to do what he could” about the situation and that Schembri had “frozen” [kesaħ] when Fenech told him what was going on.
- That Fenech told Theuma that when he (Fenech) had spoken to Schembri about the murder, the former chief of staff had told him "next time you should have told me".
- That in 2018 Schembri had attended a meeting with the Prime Minister and "Owen" at Castille about the murder, and that Fenech told Theuma what happened during it.
- That Theuma only mentioned Schembri unprompted once while under interrogation, when he “flew into a rage”.
- That Theuma said he had kept a photo of himself and Schembri and written a note in which he mentioned Fenech and Schembri as leverage, to protect himself.
- That original copies of the recordings are with Europol, where experts are working to identify when they were made.
As it happened
4.59pm More arguments between the lawyers.
Keith Arnaud says that the police have the original copy of the handwritten letter as well as of Theuma’s photo with Schembri.
The court orders that both those be exhibited during the next sitting.
We’ll have to wait for the recordings though, which are with Europol experts.
The case is adjourned to December 19 and 23 at 10am.
‘People only getting prosecution’s version’
4.50pm Keith Arnaud tells the court they do not know when Europol will be done assessing the recordings, for them to be exhibited in court.
Defence lawyer Marion Camilleri points out that today, in a courtroom full of media, only the prosecution’s version of events was provided, to the detriment of the defence’s case.
“People out there will judge,” she notes.
Defence lawyers are very angry that the prosecution was allowed to make its case despite Theuma’s recordings of Fenech not yet being produced as evidence in the case.
Theuma ends his testimony
4.46pm Melvin Theuma steps down from the witness stand.
Last will and testament
4.44pm Theuma says he had drawn up a will on December 5, 2017 when the alleged killers had been arrested.
“I was afraid that once the killers were arrested, Fenech would eliminate me too,” he says.
The magistrate interjects – didn’t you say you began to worry when Vincent Muscat began to reveal information?
Theuma offers a vague reply. I was always afraid, he says.
Theuma exculpates Schembri
4.37pm Theuma says he had started recording Fenech using Airplay on his phone. He wrote the handwritten letter, he tells the court, “on the day I got a tattoo”.
“I mentioned Schembri in the letter because I was afraid that Yorgen would get Schembri’s help to put me in prison,” he says, before emphasising this point.
“But I cannot under oath state that Keith ever handed me money or ever spoke to me about Daphne’s murder. I was afraid because the two were great friends”.
"For me, Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind".
4.32pm Theuma is now speaking of the Degiorgios’ money laundering case and his involvement in it.
George Degiorgio’s partner, Anca, had also been arrested as part of that case.
Mario Degiorgio asked Theuma to pay the €15,000 bail. Fenech was abroad at the time, Theuma says, so he paid it himself. He’s not sure whether it was March of 2018 or 2019.
'Schembri cannot help'
4.30pm Theuma says that Fenech told him that Schembri could do nothing about the bail issue.
Meanwhile, demands for money from the Degiorgios kept pouring in. They amounted to around €2,000 to €3,000 per week. Fenech always paid without question, Theuma says.
A wry smile from the murder accused
4.27pm Theuma says that Kenneth once told him that he (Theuma) might be the murder mastermind. He showed me some mobile phones and asked me if I recognised these numbers.
Theuma says he did not ask Kenneth why he was showing him the numbers.
But why not, asks the court.
“Ma’am, please understand what I was going through. The noose was tightening,” Theuma replies.
Sitting in the courtroom, Yorgen Fenech hears this, shakes his head and smiles.
Fenech pledges help
4.22pm Theuma confronted Fenech about the bail promise. Fenech denied all knowledge of it but said he would ask Schembri about it.
Mario Degiorgio began bombarding him with messages, reminding him to keep his promise.
Theuma says that Fenech once told him “He got involved because of me” ('dak daħal għaliha minħabba fija’) with reference to Keith Schembri sending the two men to Theuma’s house.
A promise of bail which never materialised
4.15pm Theuma recalls how Kenneth hung up the phone and told him “tell them that on the 22nd they will get bail and one million each”.
Theuma cannot recall which month that was, but he knows that the 22nd came and went and no bail – or million - was given.
Kenneth and Johann
4.13pm Theuma told Kenneth that the Degiorgios were pressing to be granted bail. Kenneth moved to the side and made a phone call.
The court interrupts Theuma’s testimony. The magistrate wants to know how Theuma had decided that the two men - Johann and Kenneth - had come to his house to discuss the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.
There’s a heated exchange between defence lawyers and the prosecution, which ends with a warning by magistrate Montebello.
With calm restored, Theuma explains that Johann Cremona and Fenech had business together and that Kenneth worked at the Office of the Prime Minister.
"I was convinced they were sent by Yorgen or Keith," he says.
'Il-Koħħu is spilling the beans'
4.09pm Theuma had argued with Fenech, and then some time later received a phone call from Johann Cremona, who went to his home together with ‘Kenneth’.
“What’s up?” Kenneth had asked.
“I’m in trouble because il-Koħħu (Vincent Muscat) is spilling the beans about Daphne’s murder,” Theuma says he replied.
Theuma tells the court that he was convinced that “Keith Schembri had sent these guys”.
4.06pm Fenech once warned Theuma that Vincent Muscat, who was cooperating with the police at that point, had also told the police about him (Theuma).
Theuma says he informed Mario Degiorgio about this.
Theuma recalls how he had switched off his mobile after a heavy drinking session. When he switched it back on, he found text messages from Fenech.
Muscat was telling police that the bomb had been manufactured at tal-Maksar, the messages said.
'Fear us, not them'
4.03pm A message from Mario Degiorgio made Theuma even more concerned.
Mario told him that his brother George wanted him to know that he should “fear us, not those outside”.
“I would have given them anything they asked for,” Theuma tells the court.
Mario came with other requests for money - another €30,000, then a further €60,000 for bail. Theuma would speak to Fenech, who would pay.
“For how much longer would Yorgen pay?” Theuma mused. “If I was killed, Yorgen could have relaxed”.
Theuma says that coming clean about it all has lifted a weight from his shoulders.
Theuma’s second thoughts on suicide
3.58pm Theuma says he seriously contemplated suicide at this point.
“I seriously considered jumping off the roof”, he tells the court.
The thought that held him back was the realisation that if he did that, he would only be doing Fenech a favour.
“The whole thing would be buried with me,” he says.
Why did Theuma give the Degiorgios food?
3.56pm Theuma recalls how he once spoke to Alfred Degiorgio over the phone. Theuma had met Mario Degiorgio and was with him when Alfred called.
They had a brief chat. Some time later, Mario approached him and asked for €30,000 to cover legal fees, Theuma tells the court.
Theuma says that he started handing the Degiorgios food through Mario.
“Why?” asks the court.
Theuma replies that he felt that if the alleged killers were to speak to the police, he stood to lose the most. “They only knew me,” he says.
Theuma's payments to jailed men
3.51pm Theuma says that after the three men were arrested, his health deteriorated and he grew depressed. He was paying ‘Lolly’ in Ħamrun €300 a week to pass on to the three men, who were behind bars. Lolly would give him receipts from Corradino Correctional Facility, where they were being held.
After the fourth payment, Theuma showed Fenech the receipts. He did not comment, Theuma tells the court.
Soon enough, the €300 became €200 as Vincent Muscat’s wife was asking questions about where the extra €100 a week were coming from, he says. Theuma then stopped giving Muscat money.
Coded messages and a CID tail
3.47pm Theuma passed Alfred Degiorgio a coded message indicating that the two should meet at Ramla iż-Żejtun, he tells the court.
After that meeting, they were due to meet again at the Hilton but left after noticing a CID (Criminal Investigation Department) car there. They met again in Ħamrun, where they discussed the case. Neither had any new information about it.
3.43pm Theuma recalls how Fenech had told him to warn the alleged killers that they were in danger because investigators had traced the message used to detonate the bomb.
Fenech had also told him, on a Thursday later on, to warn the three that a “very big raid related to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder” was going to happen on December 5 .
3.39pm Theuma is describing his fear when he learnt that Daphne had been murdered, through the news.
He shared his concerns with Fenech, who told him not to worry because it was the Maltese police who were investigating the case.
Details of Theuma's phantom job
3.36pm The court wants to know if Theuma asked why he was being given a government job.
“No ma’am, I didn’t even know where I was working!” he replies.
“I went into an interview with two men and a woman and was asked if I knew how to send an email. In the blink of an eye [f’radda ta’ salib] I had signed a contract”.
The cheques used to first arrive by hand and then some “three or four times” by post, he says.
The job ended when "Tony Muscat" told him that he would have to start reporting to work, and Theuma replied that he couldn't.
Photo with Schembri
3.34pm It was Sandro Craus who took the photo of Schembri and Theuma, the latter has told the court.
“I gave a copy of that photo, together with a copy of the letter, to Yorgen Fenech,” he says.
Theuma's Castille meeting
3.30pm Theuma speaks about his meeting at Castille.
He says that two days after he contracted the murder, he got a call from Fenech telling him that Sandro Craus from the OPM would be contacting him.
He tells the court he did not ask why.
Theuma entered Castille from the main door and was greeted by Keith Schembri, who offered him an espresso and took him on a tour of the building.
“Did you ask him why?” asks the court.
“I was embarrassed,” replies Theuma, who says he had only met Schembri once before, at Fenech’s farmhouse.
'Arnaud is leading the witness'
3.27pm Inspector Keith Arnaud is now asking Theuma about the items police seized when they arrested him last month.
That gets defence lawyers angry – they say Arnaud is leading the witness.
Magistrate Montebello makes a decision. From now on, it will be the court asking the questions, she says.
'I even called him from Paris'
3.23pm Theuma is recalling how Alfred Degiorgio gave him a phone to communicate with them.
He even called him from Paris while on a family holiday to Eurodisney, he says.
Theuma also recalls how the Degiorgios told him that they had been about to kill Daphne, but had to abort the plans because of an unexpected police roadblock.
Theuma says he cannot recall exactly when that was.
Fenech's growing anxiety
3.18pm Fenech grew increasingly anxious about hurrying it along, Theuma recalls.
"She’s going to release my information" [Se toħroġli l-informazzjoni] he would repeatedly say.
Theuma would relay that message to Alfred Degiorgio, who would reply “I need time”.
Theuma once went to the Marsa potato shed, where he met George Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat. Degiorgio told him that the planning was complicated.
“But so many tough guys have died, she’ll die too,” he told Theuma. [Imma mietu daqs dawn bullijiet, ma tmutx hi?]
Theuma recalls murder arrangements
3.10pm Theuma is again recounting the curious timing of the murder plans. He received a call from Fenech on the Sunday when Labour was celebrating its 2017 election and told 'hemmhekk mexxi' ['move ahead on that'].
Fenech sounded tipsy, Theuma recalls. But Fenech would then go on to hand him €150,000 in €50 banknotes inside a brown envelope and tell him 'these are for the Daphne affair'.
Theuma counted the cash and then met Alfred Degiorgio at the Busy Bee confectionary, handing him €30,000 in bundles of €10,000 each.
Theuma says he had no information about the hit itself and that he used messenger apps WhatsApp and Signal to communicate with the alleged killers.
Details of the Daphne hit
3.03pm Theuma is discussing how he and Yorgen discussed the murder and how he met the Degiorgio brothers, who stand accused of having killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.
This, too, was revealed when he testified in the case against them last week.
2.58pm Theuma is now testifying. He’s repeating things which already emerged when he first testified last week – how he first got to know Yorgen’s uncle Ray, how he worked at Portomaso and the Hilton as a taxi driver.
Yorgen Fenech sits in court, his arms crossed as he listens. He's pointedly not looking at Theuma, though.
Theuma to testify
2.54pm The murder middleman is being ushered into the room. Fenech is made to stand up and aside as Theuma is escorted behind him to the witness stand.
2.50pm Theuma’s presidential pardon makes reference to other crimes, deputy AG Galea Farrugia tells the court.
Theuma will be cautioned, he says: if he lies or does not tell the whole truth, his pardon will be withdrawn.
2.48pm Theuma will testify about his conversations, not about the recordings, the magistrate replies. The court will stop him if he makes reference to the recordings.
But defence lawyers are not letting up, and they are forcefully arguing their point.
No more Arnaud, and no recordings
2.44pm The court, having deliberated and heard arguments from both sides, decides Arnaud can stop testifying for the day and denies the defence’s request for the recordings to be heard.
That prompts another objection from the defence: how can Theuma testify about recordings which have not even been presented in the case yet? The prosecution is not following the correct legal procedure, they add.
'Vital' civilian witness?
2.38pm Melvin Theuma is due to testify next, but deputy AG Galea Farrugia has just interjected and said that a “vital” civilian witness has to be heard as soon as possible.
Inspector's 'rather dry' testimony
2.37pm Marion Camilleri, representing Fenech, wants to know why inspector Arnaud’s testimony is not continuing today.
The inspector replies: I have to work on my testimony.
“It was rather dry [xotta] and there is much more”.
Europol has original copies of recordings
2.34pm The magistrate asks deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia if he objects to the recordings being heard today.
“Yes, definitely,” Dr Galea Farrugia replies, saying that the copies in their possession are only “informal” copies.
Police only have a working copy of the recordings – the originals are with Europol – and a copy has no probatory value, he argues. The originals will be exhibited "in due course".
'Recordings should be heard today'
2.30pm Defence lawyers would like to cross-examine inspector Arnaud, but it appears that he has yet to finish testifying and will therefore have to wait.
Fenech’s lawyers want the recordings Arnaud “made ample reference to” to be presented to court.
“He drew many conclusions,” lawyer Marion Camilleri says. "The inspector did not just say 'we heard this or that'. He said 'we understood this or that.
“Those recordings should be heard today”.
The magistrate takes note of the request.
Fenech's statement to police
2.27pm Arnaud says that Fenech’s allegations are still being investigated by police, with some people arrested and questioned in relation to them.
Arnaud notes that Fenech had objected to his involvement and says that Fenech had given his main statement to his colleague, inspector Kurt Zahra.
Almost two hours into his testimony, inspector Arnaud seems to be winding down.
2.24pm Arnaud has Fenech’s lawyers banging on their desks again.
He had just started saying how Fenech had wanted to alter some of the things he had previously told police.
But the magistrate says that sort of statement is not on, as it could cast doubts on the accused, and instructs inspector Arnaud to move on.
2.20pm Police spoke to Fenech twice before Theuma was granted a pardon, Arnaud tells the court.
Arnaud starts speaking about a first conversation, in which they discussed a possible pardon for Fenech. But that has Fenech’s lawyers on their feet, objecting.
The magistrate agrees with their objections, and says no details about a potential pardon for Fenech should be revealed in this court.
Arnaud moves on. He says that Theuma’s evidence was corroborated by certain things mentioned by Fenech. The police then drew up a report on Theuma’s pardon request and handed it to the prime minister, who recommended a pardon.
Why did Theuma write the letter?
2.17pm Arnaud is now reading the letter Theuma wrote in which he linked both Fenech and Schembri to the murder.
Why had he mentioned Schembri?
Arnaud tells the court that Theuma was convinced that he was going to be ‘eliminated’. He suspected that Fenech would get Schembri’s help to throw him (Theuma) behind bars.
Theuma gave Fenech the letter and a copy of the recordings, to show Fenech that he could nail him if anything happened to him.
Theuma's phantom job
2.14pm Arnaud tells the court about Theuma’s Castille meeting with Schembri and the subsequent phantom job he landed.
The magistrate asks: Did they ever tell him why he was getting the job?
“No, he never gave a clear reply,” comes the answer.
“Why did he get the job, then?” the magistrate asks.
Arnaud says investigations into that are still ongoing and they still do not have a clear answer.
Theuma and Schembri
2.11pm Investigators pressed Theuma for information about Schembri, Arnaud is telling the court.
They also questioned Kenneth, who Theuma had said had approached him and promised him bail for the alleged killers.
Theuma told investigators that he mentioned Schembri because he knew he was Fenech’s friend. He had kept that photo of himself with Schembri to use it to pressure Fenech into turning to Schembri for help.
About that meeting
2.08pm About that earlier meeting – Arnaud told the court that it was a meeting in 2018 between Schembri and the Prime minister and ‘Owen’ to update the prime minister about the murder.
'4,000 want her dead'
2.06pm The two men also discussed Daphne Caruana Galizia and how “some 4,000 people” wanted her dead, including people from “the other side” (PN).
'He went cold'
2.04pm Fenech put his foot down when Theuma pressed him about pressuring the judge.
“What should I tell the judge, that I killed her?” Fenech told him.
Fenech said that Schembri had intervened because they were friends.
“He went cold when I told him,” Fenech told Theuma.
Schembri always told Fenech that he couldn’t do anything about getting the three men bail.
2pm There was talk of a meeting with the prime minister about the murder.
In it, he mentioned Arnaud himself and “Owen”, Arnaud tells the court.
Fenech gave Theuma information about who said what during that meeting and warned him to be careful because police were on his tracks.
Fenech also mentioned ‘Kenneth’ during that meeting. Theuma asked who he was and was told that he was a security official.
Talk of money
1.56pm Fenech and Theuma also spoke of the money handed over for the murder, as well as the money Fenech was regularly handing to Theuma to pass on to the Degiorgios once they were in prison.
“We’ve always supported them, they won’t need anything,” he told Theuma, Arnaud says.
'I'll do my best'
1.54pm Fenech told Theuma that he had spoken to Keith Schembri, Arnaud is telling the court.
Schembri told Fenech that Theuma should not have promised bail but that “he would do what he could” [jagħmel l-aħjar li jista’].
Fenech said he would speak to Schembri
1.51pm Fenech told Theuma he would speak to Keith Schembri to see what was going on.
Theuma continued to worry about the bail issue, and had even asked Fenech if he would speak to the judge or the Prime Minister about it.
Fenech told him no. “Ma tarax [Absolutely not]”, he said. “Don’t involve more people to complicate matters”.
'I'll speak to him'
1.49pm Fenech did not seem to be aware that Theuma was promised that the three men would get bail.
When Theuma brought up this bail issue, Fenech reassured him “I’ll speak to him” [issa nkellmu].
'Obsessed' with bail
1.42pm Melvin was desperate, Arnaud tells the court. He was obsessed with the idea that the Degiorgios would be granted bail.
‘Kenneth’ had given him hope that they would get bail “on the 22nd”.
"What will I tell them if they don't get it?" Theuma once asked Fenech.
[Theuma mentioned Kenneth when he testified last week. For more, see our story on ‘Kenneth from Castille’.]
Europol working on recordings
1.40pm Europol experts have yet to determined when the recordings were made, Arnaud tells the court.
One conversation was recorded at Portomaso. Theuma had told his partner that he was going to record Fenech, Arnaud says.
Arnaud alludes to another recording, made when Theuma collected Fenech and his children from the airport after a football trip abroad.
Angry Theuma mentions Schembri
1.37pm One time, Theuma flew into a rage and mentioned Keith Schembri, Arnaud tells the court.
That was the only time Schembri’s name came up, he says.
1.35pm As talks for the pardon were concluded, police were handed recordings found at Theuma’s house.
In them, police heard recordings between Theuma and Fenech.
Up to that point, no other name had ever surfaced, Arnaud says.
'He was very emotional'
1.33pm Europol were appointed as court experts to test the mobile phone, Arnaud says, and there were several visits between Europol and Maltese police.
Theuma immediately told police that he wanted to speak about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, Arnaud says.
“He was very emotional,” he adds.
His lawyers told them that he wanted a presidential pardon to reveal what he knew.
The police commissioner and attorney general spoke with the prime minister, who gave the go-ahead provided they got to the bottom of who killed Daphne and that Theuma said all he knew “from A to Z”.
Theuma's plastic box
1.29pm When the police arrested Theuma, they found a plastic box.
“I want to open that in the presence of police,” he said.
In the event, a magistrate was also present and the moment when he opened the box was filmed, Arnaud tells the court.
Inside, they found mobile phones, two bundles of papers, USB pen drives, a voice recorder and SIM cards. The mobile phone screen was on and it showed a message preview from “Yorgin”.
One of the papers was a photo of Theuma with Keith Schembri at Castille.
Police didn’t tell Theuma anything at this stage, Arnaud says.
Theuma's betting ring
1.25pm Inspector Kurt Zahra interrupts Arnaud to ask about the man who handed Ms Pop’s bail money to Mario Degiorgio.
Prosecutors ask for the man’s name to be banned from publication for the time being.
Arnaud tells the court how Theuma seemed to show a great interest in the Degiorgios and in Ms Pop. They increasingly came to believe that the recordings Theuma had were related to the Caruana Galizia murder.
At around that time – April 2019 - they noted that Theuma was involved in clandestine betting and possible money laundering. That was grounds for an investigation by the police’s economic crimes unit. A plan was hatched to run a search operation at the end of November – when Theuma was arrested.
Recordings of Fenech
1.21pm Theuma had opened up to a certain person, Arnaud says. From the way he spoke to that person, police sensed that Theuma’s argument with Fenech had to do with the Caruana Galizia murder.
Police were following Theuma’s movements, Arnaud says.
Investigators move in on Theuma
1.18pm Police began to close in on Theuma, who worked as a taxi driver at Portomaso.
Arnaud says that information they had indicated that Theuma was not acting normally and seemed to have undergone some sort of dramatic change.
They got wind that Theuma had argued with Yorgen Fenech and had started recording him.
Theuma enters the frame
1.15pm Arnaud says that police had learnt, through highly confidential information, that Melvin Theuma was the middleman in the case and had handed Alfred Degiorgio €150,000 for the murder.
Theuma was also the only person who frequently spoke to the brothers through Mario’s phone and also sent them food in prison.
Arnaud says that the bail deposit for Ms Pop had been collected and handed to Mario Degiorgio by a man.
1.13pm In around April, the Degiorgios grew very worried because they got to know that Vincent Muscat had spoken to the police, Arnaud is saying.
“Their brothers on the outside warned them to be careful,” he tells the court.
“Is it that person whose name begins with an ‘M’?”, the brothers asked.
When the Degiorgios and Alfred Degiorgio’s partner Anca Adelina Pop were charged with money laundering, it was Theuma who paid the bail deposit, Arnaud says.
Contact with middleman Theuma
1.10pm In one call to George, his brother told him “tell him to call tomorrow at 10am”.
Alfred called Mario the following day. Mario handed the phone over to Melvin Theuma [the middleman in the case].
Theuma told Alfred to keep strong, Arnaud is telling the court. ‘Moħħkom hemm’ [be alert], he told him.
Arnaud is saying how investigators understood that Mario was serving as a go-between between Theuma and the Degiorgio brothers, not Vincent Muscat.
Mario would pass on meat, ġbejniet [cheeselets] and chicken given by Theuma. [Theuma said the same thing when he testified last week].
1.07pm Arnaud is explaining how the special task force investigating the case had reason to suspect that a mastermind was behind the plot.
George Degiorgio would often call his brother Mario and ask him “did you meet that guy?” [iltqajt ma’ dak?].
Vincent Muscat always called his family, Arnaud says.
There was quite a difference between the calls made by the Degiorgios and those made by their co-accused Vincent Muscat, the inspector says.
1pm When police arrested the men at the potato shed in December 2017, they found Alfred Degiorgio’s phone metres away and two other phones belonging to the other two murder accused at the bottom of the sea nearby, close to a secluded room used solely by the three.
12.58pm The inspector is explaining how they tracked phones belonging to the three men accused of murdering Daphne.
Phones belonging to the Degiorgio brothers moved together with one of the ‘ghost’ phones that was used to detonate the bomb.
When the activation message to detonate the bomb was sent, it was routed to a cell tower in Mosta.
Another phone was tracked at the Grand Harbour and then moved north and south, always facing the sea. At around 3pm it linked to a cell tower at the Great Siege bell memorial, which was also sea-facing.
Alfred Degiorgio’s boat, the Maya, had exited the Grand Harbour that day and reappeared under the memorial at the time the SMS was sent. It then headed to a potato shed in Marsa, where the men would later be caught and arrested.
Arnaud's leading role
12.52pm Inspector Arnaud says the bomb was probably placed in Ms Caruana Galizia’s car at 1am on the same day that she was killed.
The inspector has served as the lead investigator in this case and has played a key role in the compilation of evidence against Alfred and George Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat – the three men accused of murdering Ms Caruana Galizia.
But Yorgen Fenech has accused the inspector of being close to Keith Schembri, the man Fenech says is actually behind the murder plot, and wants him removed from the case.
A separate constitutional case about that is under way.
Details of a murder
12.47pm Inspector Arnaud is delving into greater detail about the bomb and where it was placed, as well as the triangulation of mobile phone data which helped investigators identify where the text message that set it off came from.
He also touches on evidence found at a site overlooking the murder site, where they found a cigarette butt, and explains how they traced SIM cards to eventually create a pattern of movements up to the 3pm detonation.
All this will be familiar evidence to those who have been following the compilation of evidence against the three men accused of planting and detonating the bomb which killed Ms Caruana Galizia.
12.43pm Inspector Arnaud tells the court he and his colleague Kurt Zahra split the workload. Arnaud liased with foreign FBI experts, Dutch forensic experts and Europol experts.
12.41pm Inspector Keith Arnaud is the first person to testify. He takes the oath and then the stand, and begins to recount details of the case, beginning with the October 2017 assassination.
Court in session
12.39pm The court is in session. The Caruana Galizia family has some additional legal help, in the form of Peter Caruana Galizia – Daphne’s husband and a lawyer himself – and lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona.
Who are the lawyers?
12.37pm Lawyers Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran are appearing for Fenech.
Deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia is appearing for the prosecution, along with police inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are here on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family.
12.36pm Reporters, the Caruana Galizia family and other parties have all been allowed into the courtroom. It's packed, as you can image.
What we know so far
12.33pm Yorgen Fenech was arrested aboard his yacht at the crack of dawn, less than 24 hours after the prime minister confirmed that talks were under way to give a middleman in the case a presidential pardon in exchange for information about the case.
That middleman – taxi driver Melvin Theuma – has testified that Fenech was the sole mastermind behind the Caruana Galizia murder plot.
He has said he surreptitiously recorded Fenech and is scheduled to continue testifying on Thursday.
Here's our report on Theuma's first testimony before the courts.
Theuma also wrote a letter in which he named the prime minister's former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, as a co-conspirator.
Fenech says Schembri was the real mastermind and is seeking a pardon in exchange for information.
Yorgen Fenech in court
12.26pm The accused has just been taken into the courtroom, under heavy security, having walked past the Caruana Galizia family in the hallway. Everyone else is still waiting outside.
What is a compilation of evidence?
12.22pm The compilation of evidence is the first stage in a criminal trial. It is the period when prosecutors can present all the evidence they have against an accused which they believe makes them guilty of the crimes they are charged with.
Prosecutors can present documents or recordings, present expert analysis and summon witnesses to testify as they seek to make their case.
But they must present all evidence – both in favour and against - our court reporter Edwina Brincat notes.
Defence lawyers can choose to cross-examine witnesses, or else reserve cross-examination to a later date.
Once the compilation of evidence is completed, the court must decide whether there are grounds for the case to proceed to trial.
Who is Yorgen Fenech?
12.17pm The multi-millionaire is the heir to a family fortune that spans multiple industrial sectors and is practically a household name in Malta – Tumas.
Read Claire Caruana’s profile of the business tycoon.
Tight security outside courtroom
12.10pm We're still at least 20 minutes from the start of proceedings, but armed security guards have been milling around the court room for the past hour. Our court reporter has noticed police officers with sniffer dogs too.
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