The presidential pardon granted to murder middleman Melvin Theuma is to be exhibited in court records of proceedings against Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of complicity in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
This latest move marks an important step by Fenech’s defence team, which has long sought to get hold of the document issued by the president in Theuma’s favour, in exchange for evidence relating to the 2017 Caruana Galizia murder and other crimes.
Last Thursday, lawyers on both sides of the fence clashed over this matter, after lead prosecutor Keith Arnaud said under-cross examination that he had not brought a copy of the pardon, following a specific request by Fenech’s lawyers.
Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia had intervened, explaining that he had advised the prosecution accordingly and saying that the pardon, would “definitely not be exhibited.”
Galea Farrugia argued that exhibiting Theuma’s pardon could possibly prove prejudicial to other cases which the middleman allegedly has information about.
Yet Fenech’s lawyers had cited previous cases in which a similar document had been exhibited in the records of the case.
As the legal teams traded arguments, the court finally stepped in to resolve the matter, partially upholding Fenech’s request and declaring that inspector Arnaud was to testify about the contents of the pardon behind closed doors. It also reserved its decision about the presentation of the actual document to a later stage.
That decision was delivered on Monday, by means of a decree wherein magistrate Rachel Montebello observed that the prerogative of mercy, granted by the President in terms of article 93 of the Constitution, had been exhibited in various proceedings, both criminal and civil.
There was nothing at law precluding this, the court said.
Theuma had been guaranteed immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony, and the terms and conditions under which his pardon had been granted could therefore not be considered as irrelevant to the proceedings, it added.
The “best and most satisfactory” proof that those conditions had been met would be to exhibit the document itself, the court said, adding that this was just and useful even for completeness’ sake.
The court thus limitedly upheld the request, ordering the police commissioner to exhibit Theuma’s pardon at the next hearing, without however, revealing any information linked to other crimes about which Theuma was expected to testify but which were unrelated to this case.
Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran, Marion Camilleri and Charles Mercieca are defence counsel for Fenech.