Melvin Theuma, the state witness in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, has just been released from hospital following a suspected suicide attempt. However, questions will now turn as to whether police protection will be enough to prevent it from happening again.
On the eve of the attempt, police officers were stationed outside his home after Gafa acceded to Theuma’s request to grant him more privacy. From now on, those decisions will be taken according to medical and mental health advice from professionals, Gafa told Lovin Malta in an interview.
“Everyone is smarter with hindsight,” Gafa said when asked whether the decision to grant Theuma privacy was a mistake. “We need to find a balance between privacy and safety, invading his privacy could contribute to his stress.”
“We want Melvin Theuma to be sane and in good condition when he testifies in the trial. Our operations have been revised so a situation like this does not happen again,” he explained.
Gafa would not be drawn into comments on what drove Theuma to the suicide attempt but said police protection was always based on third-party harm. However, Theuma has repeatedly said during the trial that he had been suicidal and depressed at points.
Gafa told Lovin Malta that Theuma always spoke in those terms before his arrest and there were no alarm bells that it could happen again.
Since the shocking incident, rumours have been swirling among the Maltese public over what exactly took place, particularly given the close links former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta to the crime.
Gafa conceded that trust remains an issue, but insisted he was working hard for the police to be more transparent to help start rebuilding public trust.
“[Cases like Valletta and Cutajar] will no longer be tolerated, whoever made mistakes will have to pay the price. For anyone who followed Cutajar’s sitting, they know the prosecution cautioned him before testifying, anyone in court knows what that means for the person.”
“There is a magisterial inquiry underway. I have faith in the magistrate and met with them. Investigations are intensifying, and we will act at the opportune time under the direction of the magistrate,” he said.
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