Former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar is mentioned “hundreds” of times in recently-unearthed tapes belonging to Melvin Theuma, the middleman-turned-state-witness in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination.
The new recordings form part of a cache of tapes recently discovered on devices in a box Theuma handed to police upon his arrest in November 2019. Investigators handed over the devices to Europol for extraction. However, court experts have said that some files were corrupted while being forensically transferred to each interested party in the case.
Details over the new tapes have been scarce and have been played behind closed doors. However, well-informed sources have revealed that Cutajar features heavily throughout the latest recordings.
It is not the first time Cutajar has been linked to the case. Fenech’s legal team have claimed that the tapes clearly show Theuma discussing how he allegedly bought and negotiated his pardon for €17,000.
Previous reports have revealed that in a tape recorded in the weeks before his arrest, Theuma tells Johann Cremona, who is also Fenech’s business partner, about the bribe.
In the recorded tapes, Theuma allegedly says that he had given €15,000 to Edwin‘il-Ġojja’ Brincat, his close confidante who also has a 30-year relationship with Cutajar, for the bribe. He also allegedly reveals that he plans to pay back Brincat in packs of €5,000. Cutajar and Theuma have denied the claim.
Beyond allegations, there is circumstantial evidence heavily linking Cutajar to Brincat and potential criminal activity. Mobile phone data has confirmed that Cutajar contacted Brincat the day before the latter was set to testify in the case against Fenech.
The former police commissioner is also under investigation for leaking details in the case. He has so far confirmed that he met with Brincat to inquire about potential recordings, without informing the investigation beforehand. Brincat has revealed that he immediately told Theuma that the police were aware of the tapes following the meeting.
Cutajar, Cremona, and Theuma have all insisted that the latter would regularly overstate his relationship with Cutajar. Theuma said he did so to show Fenech he too had connections in the police force and government.
Cutajar was removed from his post as Police Commissioner earlier this year. However, he was present during interrogations of several key figures in the case, including Theuma, in November 2019. He was also involved in negotiations for Theuma’s pardon, along with then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and then-Attorney General Peter Grech.
The evidence box was crucial for Theuma’s pardon. In the box was a photo with Schembri and a letter naming both Schembri and Fenech as the masterminds. The recordings that have so far been played in court focus on damning conversations between Theuma and Fenech.
These include information of potential significant leaks from critical players like former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta, which could also implicate Keith Schembri, and the perpetrators’ in-depth knowledge of a pardon request for one of the men charged with carrying out the murder.
Theuma was set to face questions on the claims. However, a suspected suicide attempt has sidelined Theuma from the sittings for the time being, with court-appointed experts assessing his physical and mental health.
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