Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar has denied tipping off Daphne Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma about his impending arrest but concedes that public perception may be against him and his former colleagues.
In an interview to Times of Malta, Cutajar says that when he had met with Edwin Brincat, a close associate of Theuma, he was “panicking” and worried that the investigation would hit a brick wall.
He said that he was concerned investigators would not get their hands on the vital recordings which Theuma had been collecting as evidence, and so took it upon himself to ask Brincat about them. He concedes that “in hindsight” it would have been better to inform in- vestigators before holding the meeting with Brincat, however, he says he had only been trying to help.
The interview was done few hours before Magistrate Rachel Montebello ordered the acting police commissioner to investigate his predecessor Lawrence Cutajar following further revelations in court over alleged breaches in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case.
This final twist came about at the end of a record nine- hour session in the ongoing murder compilation against Yorgen Fenech, the business tycoon who stands charged with orchestrating the assassination of the journalist back in October 2017.The order was delivered by Magistrate Rachel Montebello upon a formal request by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi, and fully endorsed by the defence team.
Three men are awaiting trial for having set off the car bomb that killed Caruana Galizia while prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech, suspected of masterminding the killing, has been charged with complicity to murder. All have pleaded ‘not guilty’.
Fenech was arrested after a middleman in the murder plot, Melvin Theuma, turned state witness and was granted a pardon. Police had been investigating him on suspicion of involvement in the murder and of money laundering.
The request for Cutajar to be investigated was made by lawyers for the journalist’s family during the compilation of evidence against Fenech, after Theuma and an associate said Cutajar had given them information.
Cutajar did not respond to phone calls seeking a comment but he told the Times of Malta that he had never spoken to Theuma.
Among the submissions the court heard were secret recordings of phone conversations between Theuma and Fenech or Fenech’s associates in which Cutajar was mentioned.
Cutajar was police commissioner when Caruana Galizia was murdered. He resigned last January, when he was appointed government adviser on public safety.
He was suspended after the Sunday Times of Malta reported that investigators thought Cutajar might have leaked information that Theuma was about to be arrested.
The ministry of home affairs issued a statement saying that Cutajar had always denied the allegations made against him.
But it said it had terminated Cutajar’s contract as an adviser after Monday’s court hearing and the decision to order a formal investigation.
Reuters / Times of Malta