Melvin Theuma has written a note from his hospital bed saying he stabbed himself multiple times out of remorse and because his evidence in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was being doubted.
The self-confessed middleman in the October 2017 car bombing indicated to a magistrate there was no third-party involvement in the incident on Tuesday night.
Theuma was found in a pool of blood with his neck slashed in his Swieqi apartment hours before he was due to give evidence.
Speculation has been rife about how he suffered the multiple stab wounds to his neck and body, despite police saying all indications were that they were self-inflicted.
Times of Malta has learnt that as part of her inquiry, magistrate Astrid May Grima visited the bedside of the critically-ill star witness on Friday in the intensive care unit of Mater Dei Hospital.
After a series of questions, sources say Theuma, who is unable to speak after the incident, excluded third party involvement. He used gestures and a hand-written note to answer her questions.
Theuma pointed to himself, indicating he was responsible, and, when asked if he had been threatened, he responded with a thumbs down signal, sources say.
The former taxi driver then wrote a note using his right hand explaining two reasons for his apparent suicide attempt. The first was that he felt remorse for his role in the murder of the investigative journalist and the second was that he felt his evidence was not deemed credible.
He used the Maltese phrase qed jidħku bija, which translated literally, means ‘they’re laughing at me’.
Theuma was granted a pardon last November, in exchange for his testimony but that pardon hinges on him telling the truth about the case.
After he had been interrogated by the magistrate, he also asked for more paper and wrote, “Yorgen got me into all this”.
Theuma’s testimony and secret recordings of conversations he had with people allegedly involved in the murder plot have been described by police sources as crucial to the case against Yorgen Fenech, the businessman accused of the conspiracy to kill Caruana Galizia.
Meanwhile, criminal lawyers have told Times of Malta that his hospitalisation is likely to delay criminal proceedings against all those implicated in the murder.
One lawyer said that witnesses usually need to testify viva voce – by word of mouth - because the prosecution and defence, as well as a judge or magistrate, need to evaluate the person’s behaviour on the witness stand.
“Sometimes, this behaviour could expose whether the person is telling the truth or whether he’s embellishing the story. The body language says a lot and that is a critical element of someone’s testimony,” he said.
Another lawyer said that if Theuma, who is so far unable to speak, has difficulties communicating it could lead to complications interpreting what he is saying.
He may need another surgical intervention which may prolong the process even more
“We’ll have to see how serious his condition is. If it is true that he damaged his vocal cords, it could take several months before he recovers and is able to testify again. He may need another surgical intervention which may prolong the process even more,” he said.
A senior police officer who is not involved in any of the cases said the Theuma incident will “definitely” prolong the course of justice. Whether it will have a material effect on the outcome will have to be seen but Theuma not being able to speak “could damage the prosecution’s case to a great extent,” he said.
Theuma was last night in a stable condition but doctors believe the next few days will be a critical time in terms of his medical condition.
He was taken to hospital with multiple stab wounds in his abdomen and below the kidneys as well as a slit throat and cuts to his left wrist.
The magisterial inquiry will establish whether Theuma’s injuries were self-inflicted.
The incident happened hours before he was due to appear in court to be confronted with evidence which the defence in the murder case argue sheds doubts over his credibility.
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