The magistrate leading the inquiry into the 2010 HSBC heist will hear testimony from Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma about how he had rented an apartment to the would-be robbers for them to flee to after the job.
In proceedings linked to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the court has on a number of occasions heard how Theuma, had in the past rented out an apartment to the Degiorgio brothers, who along with Vince Muscat, were accused of carrying out the murder of the journalist.
Theuma – who has been granted a presidential pardon to reveal all he knows about the murder, as well other crimes – has confirmed to the courts that he rented out an apartment to the Degiorgios and Darren Debono It-Topo.
Muscat has also told the court that he was aware that Theuma had rented an apartment out of the Degiorgios.
While it hasn’t been explicitly stated in court, it is understood that the apartment rented was to be used as a safe house following the heist.
Both Muscat and Debono are waiting to stand trial for allegedly carrying out the failed theft, along with their associate Fabio Psaila.
But yesterday, both their trials were put off indefinitely by Judge Giovanni Grixti, who informed the parties in the case that he could not set a date for the start of their trial because he did not have the acts of the case.
Grixti said that the acts had been requested by the magistrate leading the inquiry into the armed robbery, as she will be hearing testimony from a new witness.
It is understood that the witness is Melvin Theuma, who in November 2019 was also given a presidential pardon, to reveal everything he knows about the murder, as well as a number of other cases, including the 2010 attempt on the bank.
Debono has been involved with Muscat and the Degiorgio’s in a number of other cases and is a close associate of theirs.
Theuma has named Debono as the person he sought to put him in touch with George Degiorgio once he had been given the go-ahead to murder the journalist.
He has also told the court he had once rented an apartment to George Degiorgio and Darren Debono. While he hasn’t explicitly stated that the apartment was to be used by the criminals after they robbed the bank, it is understood that Theuma had indeed rented an apartment to one of the Degiorgio brothers for it to be used as a safehouse.
It isn’t clear whether Theuma had been told what the apartment was to be used for, or indeed what relevance his testimony could have to Debono’s, and especially Muscat’s trials, but its timing does raise suspicions.
Primarily, that the decision to have Theuma testify now is intended mainly to delay proceedings further, with the request for the acts of the case coming in a day before a date was to be set for the trials.
Moreover, the fact that Theuma’s pardon included his testimony about the 2010 HSBC heist means that the police have known exactly what Theuma had to offer since November 2019.
While it is true that Theuma was for a large stretch of time unable to testify as a result of suicide attempt, it seems strange that, if the intention was for Theuma to testify before the inquiring magistrate, that this did not happen at any point before this week.
Especially when considering that Muscat’s trial was originally due to take place in January, but was put off due to court disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HSBC heist has hit the headlines again in recent months, following testimony by Muscat in the Caruana Galizia case.
Lovin Malta has reported on how Muscat’s claims hark back to the claims made by former police officer Mario Portelli, in the case against lawyer David Gatt, who he had accused of masterminding the failed robbery.
More recently, links were also drawn between the attempted robbery and Minister Carmelo Abela.
Earlier this month, Abela was revealed to have testified before an inquiring magistrate regarding security equipment he had access to, and which is believed to have been used in the daring heist. It was revealed last week that the police are investigating the minister’s potential involvement.
Abela has vehemently denied the accusations, with Prime Minister Robert Abela sticking by him despite calls for his resignation, at least until he is cleared of wrongdoing.
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