The government has finally admitted that the middleman in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder had been given a job with the State-owned Housing Maintenance and Embellishment Co Ltd.
In a statement, Civil Service chief Mario Cutajar said he had received the information he requested about any employment or contract of service with the public service.
He said the Social Solidarity Ministry informed him that Melvin Theuma had been engaged following a public call and an engagement process in April 2017. Mr Theuma was employed in May and received his last paycheque in August when he was stopped because he was not attending for work.
In its statement, Mr Cutajar said the information was passed to the police on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Cutajar refuted claims that he had issued Wednesday’s denial to divert the investigation.
The statement giving the impression that Daphne murder suspect Melvin Theuma had lied about having a government job was based on records available at the time, Mr Cutajar told Times of Malta.
Mr Cutajar said in a statement on Wednesday that there was “no record” of Mr Theuma’s government job.
Hours later, Xarabank published a photo showing Mr Theuma had been hired as a messenger/driver by an entity which used to fall under the current police minister’s remit.
The records published by Xarabank show he was employed on May 1, 2017, just six months before journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was blown up by a car bomb.
Mr Cutajar, who is also the Cabinet secretary, denied Wednesday’s statement was published to cast doubts on Mr Theuma’s testimony.
He insisted the statement made it clear that information from other entities was still being gathered.
Asked why he published a statement without having all the facts at hand, Mr Cutajar said he was publishing information as it was received.
Mr Theuma said in court on Wednesday that he was given a job by the prime minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri and head of OPM customer care Sandro Craus.
The civil service head said the statement had been vetted and approved by the Attorney General.
Mr Cutajar said he had no problem clarifying Wednesday’s statement.
He said all relevant records were being preserved and passed on to the police.
Asked to confirm Mr Theuma was on the government payroll, Mr Cutajar drew a distinction between the public service and the public sector.
When it was pointed out that he was being overly technical in his distinction, Mr Cutajar replied: "I'm not being technical, I'm being factual."