A Maltese photo-journalist let slip that police were suspecting Yorgen Fenech may attempt an escape on his yacht, hours before the attempt, to the captain of the vessel, a court heard this morning.
Portomaso security officials also allegedly gave a helping hand, informing Fenech of CID presence in the marina throughout that evening.
Speaking in today’s sitting against Fenech over the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Captain Logan Woods said a journalist he “immediately recognised” was nearby the marina and approached him. This happened at 10pm on 19th November 2019.
“He asked me if the yacht was about to flee the island and that there were rumours of a grand escape,” Woods said.
He later said it was Matthew Mirabelli. Mirabelli told the Captain that someone from an apartment told him that Fenech was going to abscond. Mirabelli is a photographer with The Times of Malta.
Woods then passed on the message to Fenech.
“Fenech asked me if the yacht was about to flee the island.”
“The last thing we wanted was paparazzi to swarm around us. I had heard rumours on media at the time about Yorgen’s alleged link to this case. I warned Yorgen about media presence. He told me to keep him posted. Later I informed him that the coast is clear,” the Captain said.
In a comment to Lovin Malta, Mirabelli denied tipping off the boat captain on the night when he was asked to go to the marina by his editor.
“I entered the marina through the public area and I asked the captain (who I happened to know) whether he was planning on leaving the marina. The captain denied it. There were no other photographers or journalists on site when I got there,” Mirabelli said when contacted.
Mirabelli is prepared to give his version of events that night to the police. Times of Malta editor-in-chief Herman Grech backed Mirabelli’s version saying he had relayed the same information to him that November night.
Mirabelli was not the only one to give some sort of indication to Fenech and the Captain. The Portomaso security also notified Fenech that they had spotted CIDs in the area. This was at roughly 3am. Fenech would allegedly attempt to abscond at roughly 5.45am
Ultimately, the captain used the information to insist that Fenech and himself were never planning to escape that day.
“It’s a conspicuous vessel, around 25 knots speed. It’s a luxurious vessel. The AIS was switched on before we set sail,” he said.
Fenech was arrested on 20th November 2019 onboard his yacht ‘Gio’. Less than 24 hours after former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he recommended a pardon for the middleman in the assassination, Melvin Theuma.
This is not the first journalist to be linked to the case. Former Times of Malta journalist Ivan Camilleri has faced claims that he also tipped off Fenech. He has denied all claims, but he was fired from the media house in the wake of the claims.
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