Melvin Theuma, the middleman-turned-state-witness in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, first made contact with the Dutch national linked to crucial recordings in the case to help out with hacking emails belonging to main suspect Yorgen Fenech.
Well-informed sources told Lovin Malta that towards the end of 2018, Theuma approached Julian Hofstra to help gain access to a Tumas Group email address linked to Fenech and his uncle Ray through a phishing attempt.
Phishing is an attempt to target individuals by email, telephone, or text message to hand over sensitive data, like passwords, by posing as a legitimate institution or individual.
Hofstra, who was on the run in Malta over his involvement in an email marketing affiliate scam, was a resident at the Hilton Hotel, where Theuma worked as a taxi driver. Over time, Theuma eventually got wind of Hofstra’s expertise and offered him money in exchange for assistance.
Lovin Malta has revealed that Hofstra recorded their conversations, which allegedly include clear references to former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri’s role in the murder and Theuma’s fears that Fenech and Schembri were planning to kill him.
There were two attempts to phish Fenech’s emails. The first was unsuccessful. However, the second appears to have yielded some results.
It is as yet unclear what Theuma did with the information and what he was looking for in the first place. However, sources have suggested that Theuma was attempting to stockpile more information to ensure his safety.
At the time, Theuma had already begun recording his conversations with Fenech. Court sittings have revealed that Theuma began recording Fenech sometime in March/April 2018 after they were informed that suspect Vince Muscat had started sharing information with police.
Theuma would continue recording his conversations with Fenech and other figures like Johann Cremona up until just a few months before his arrest.
The recordings, which have been played to the court, detail Fenech and Theuma’s involvement – along with a wealth of information that was leaked to them by key players like former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta (who is the estranged husband of Education Minister Justyne Caruana) and Schembri.
Hofstra, who was also a resident at Corinthia Hotel, was eventually able to flee Malta sometime in 2019, despite facing a European Arrest Warrant. He was later arrested in Denmark.
Fenech’s lawyers, Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran, have managed to contact with Hofstra, even visiting the young inmate to listen to said recordings. It appears that both Fenech’s legal team and police are scrambling to get their hands on the crucial evidence.
Sources have told Lovin Malta that Fenech’s team hope that the tapes could prove crucial in securing Fenech some sort of pardon or reduced sentence. However, Lovin Malta is also informed that Fenech is also named in recordings.
In total, there are five recorded conversations between Theuma and Hofstra, two of which could prove crucial in uncovering new details over the case, Lovin Malta is informed.
Theuma has recently been deemed fit to testify in court by a group of psychiatric experts. It remains to be seen when and if he will be questioned on the matter.
Hofstra’s lawyer has declined to comment on the case.
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