Former Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri did not coordinate the FBI’s involvement in the Daphne Caruana Galizia investigation, contrary to what he told Malta’s courts under oath, Lovin Malta can reveal.
Well informed sources from the investigation who spoke to Lovin Malta explained that the request was actually made by Superintendent George Cremona, who is the Head of the Counter-Terrorism Unit & Criminal Intelligence Unit.
Sources explained that it was Cremona who, on his own initiative, called the FBI’s attaché in Rome and asked if they would come to Malta. The FBI are the counterparts of the Counter-Terrorism Unit.
The phone call happened roughly two hours after the murder took place on 16th October 2017.
After receiving the FBI’s approval, Cremona approached then-Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar with the request, which was approved.
The FBI would play a crucial role in the investigation, triangulating phone signals to identify the three men charged with carrying out the assassination, George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat.
The information seems to rubbish Schembri’s testimony in murder suspect Yorgen Fenech’s constitutional case to get Chief Homicide Inspector Keith Arnaud removed from the investigation.
Sources have said that Schembri was in no way involved in bringing down the FBI. While it is possible that Schembri at some point spoke to the US embassy about it, he was not the one who came up with the idea, made contact or coordinated FBI.
However, during a sitting on 18th December 2019, Schembri claimed that he was the one to coordinate the FBI’s involvement after getting approval from former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
“[I brought people in to help with the case] Like the FBI, for example. After Ms Caruana Galizia was killed, within the first 20-25 minutes, I told the Prime Minister that I will speak to the US Embassy to find out what assistance they can offer.”
“The Prime Minister said from day one that he will leave no stone unturned. We spoke to the US embassy, and I made that call. They informed me that FBI officials were in Rome and told me that, if I made the necessary arrangements, they could arrive in Malta the next morning.”
“ I obviously spoke to the AG and the police to see whether I had their go-ahead because it’s their jurisdiction,” he said.
At other points in his testimony, Schembri also contradicted the versions of events of three people – Fenech himself, his doctor Adrian Vella, and Melvin Theuma, who has been granted a conditional presidential pardon in return for revealing everything he knows about the case.
For now, questions will swirl whether Schembri could have committed perjury.
Schembri has hung over the case like a shroud, heavily featuring during court sittings, in particular during middleman Melvin Theuma’s secret recordings of Fenech.
Fenech has described a “fraternal” relationship with Schembri to the courts. Schembri has even confirmed under oath that they were friends and had also holidayed together on occasion.
The pair would reportedly share telephone conversation daily.
Fenech has claimed that he was fed information on the investigation directly from Schembri and others, including former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta. These details included the arrest of the three men charged with carrying out the murder, a potential pardon, and that their phones were wiretapped.
Schembri remains investigation for his potential involvement in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, along with a litany of other offences which include:
Tampering with evidence, leaking extensive information about the investigation, obstructing justice, and acquiring a phantom job for middleman Melvin Theuma.
He is set to face cross-examination in the police’s case against Fenech on 27th March 2020. However, with the courts closed following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Malta, this currently hangs in the balance.