Media houses who published leaked snippets of previously unheard recordings of state witness Melvin Theuma could face criminal action, with the furious magistrate in the case against Yorgen Fenech demanding the police commissioner identify the people involved.
Today’s sitting began with a clearly angry Magistrate Rachel Montebello lambasting the leak as a condemnable act and direct attack against the court’s authority. She reiterated that such leaks are damaging to the interests of justice.
Montebello criticised media houses who published the recordings, whether on their news portal or social media page. She said they could also be subject to criminal action. She mentioned a certain Simon Mercieca, who also published the recordings, by name.
She said that the leak was a criminal offence and immediately ordered Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa to identify the persons involved and the nature of the source. The registrar will also look into the claims.
Simon Mercieca, a University lecturer who republished the audio clips on Facebook despite the court order, will also be subject to the investigation. He was mentioned by name in court.
The breach is a criminal offence punishable by Article 257 of the Criminal Code. The Magistrate issued an order on the issue following a request from the parte civile lawyers of the Caruana Galizia family, Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia.
The recordings are five, 20-second excerpts of tapes played behind closed doors in the court. The tapes, which were only discovered recently, were not the result of a technical error, the magistrate said, but rather an issue with software.
Fresh snippets of the recordings were released on Reddit by an anonymous user. The prosecution (police and Attorney General’s office), the magistrate, the parte civile lawyers and the defence were the parties who had access to the recordings.
They focus on conversations between Melvin Theuma and Johann Cremona, a business partner of Fenech. Theuma has told the court several times that he would visit Cremona almost daily to confide in him over the case and unload the significant pressure he felt after the murder took place.
Secret recordings played in court have revealed that Cremona was the one to inform Fenech of Theuma’s secret tapes. Meanwhile, Theuma has testified that Cremona was the one to set up several infamous meetings with former OPM Security Guard Kenneth ‘From Castille’ Camilleri.
Cremona has confirmed he set up the meetings but insists he was just a bystander.
It’s impossible to understand the entire context of lengthy conversations with short snippets. However, they imply the potential involvement of former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar in the leak of information on the investigation.
What do you think of the magistrate’s decision? Comment below