A taxi driver accused of being a middleman in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is in “critical condition” in a hospital in Malta, after suffering knife injuries late on Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for Malta Police told CNN.
Police officers, who were alerted to the scene by Melvin Theuma’s laywer, found a knife next to the taxi driver, the spokesperson told CNN, adding that Theuma had injuries on the right side of his torso and his neck.
“Most probably the wounds were self-inflicted, but obviously the investigations are still ongoing,” the spokesperson added, referring both to the Caruana Galizia murder probe and also what happened to Theuma.
Theuma was granted a presidential pardon in exchange for his agreement to testify in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation.
He was due to attend a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Corinne Vella, the murdered journalist’s sister who is also a spokesperson for the Daphne Caruana Galizia’s foundation, told CNN by email.
Vella added that Theuma had already testified in several hearings in the two criminal cases, and in the public inquiry into the circumstances of the killing.
Ongoing court case
Caruana Galizia, 53, was a leading anti-corruption journalist from Malta, killed in a car bombing near her home in 2017. Her family says she was “assassinated” because of her work uncovering alleged corruption in the Maltese government.
The court case against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech is ongoing in the capital, Valletta, according to The Times of Malta. Rebecca Vincent, the director of international campaigns at Reporters Without Borders is also tweeting from the courtroom.
Theuma’s residence is kept under 24-hour guard, police said in a statement, adding that he was found injured after an officer stationed outside had entered the house with Theuma’s wife.
“An ambulance was immediately called on site and transferred Mr. Theuma to Mater Dei hospital for further medical treatment. In addition to the ongoing investigation, the Police also requested to appoint a Magisterial Inquiry,” the statement adds.
CNN has tried to contact Theuma’s lawyer.
Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà confirmed Wednesday in a press conference that Theuma was still in critical condition.
Caruana Galizia’s journalism – including her research into Maltese citizens implicated in the Panama Papers – had made her some very powerful enemies. The Panama Papers are the name for the leak of millions of files from the database of a Panama law firm called Mossack Fonseca in 2016.
The journalist had suffered intimidation over the years – her dog’s throat was cut, and in 2006 her house was set on fire as the family slept, tires piled against the back door to prevent them escaping.
Shortly before her death, in what was to be the final entry on her blog Running Commentary, she wrote: “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”
Malta has slid to 77th on the group’s annual rankings of global press freedom, one of the worst scores in Europe.