Police traced an online order of a revolver, ammunition and suppressor to Yorgen Fenech’s deceased father at his address in Portomaso, a court heard on Wednesday.
The order, made on the dark web and paid for using cryptocurrency Bitcoin, was flagged to Maltese authorities by their US counterparts at the Department of Homeland Security.
It was addressed to George Fenech at Level 21, Portomaso Tower in St Julian’s, Superintendent George Cremona told a court on Wednesday.
The dark web is a part of the internet that is not visible to search engines and which can only be accessed through specific tools used to mask a user’s identity.
Cremona, who heads the police force’s anti-terror unit, was testifying in a public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
George Fenech died in 2014 and had been deceased for almost five years when the order was placed. His son Yorgen stands accused of complicity in the murder of Caruana Galizia.
Testifying on Wednesday, Cremona said that while US authorities had passed on the delivery address, they were unable to trace who paid for the weapon order.
Cremona said that local police were hoping to catch the buyer red-handed through a controlled delivery of the weapon. But that plan was foiled when Italian police shut down the website, called Berlusconi, used to buy the weapon, before the delivery could take place.
The superintendent drew parallels between this case and that of Jomic Calleja, a 34-year-old man who stands accused of trying to import explosives and chemical weapons through the dark web. In that case, police had successfully intercepted a package containing explosives as it made its way to Calleja.
On Wednesday, Caruana Galizia family lawyer Jason Azzopardi noted that the timing of the revolver order coincided with a period when self-confessed murder middleman Melvin Theuma was fearing for his life.
Theuma surreptitiously recorded conversations he had with Fenech and others about the murder and has secured immunity from prosecution in exchange for turning State’s evidence.
Speaking in court, Azzopardi also noted that police inspector Kurt Zahra had testified that murder suspect Fenech was also being investigated in relation to an attempt to buy lethal poison cyanide online.
According to sources, a device belonging to Fenech contained traces of dark web searches for enough cyanide to kill a man weighing 80kg.