Shocking claims of intimidation tactics from Malta’s prison director Alex Dalli for a former warden inside Corradino’s walls have emerged – with journalist and prison reform activist Peppi Azzopardi calling on the police commissioner to open up an investigation into the claims.
“[Dalli] went up to a prison inmate, put a gun in his mouth and warned him:’ if you’re going to behave, I will drop this on you’,” former prison guard Emmanuel Cassar said in comments given to Illum.
In a wide-ranging tell-all of the prison walls, Cassar detailed how Dalli militaristic overtures in prison has fostered a culture of intimidation and fear inside prison.
“Dalli is only the one in there who keeps a weapon and displays it. He holds the weapon to his side, in a brown pocket,” he said.
“I am speaking not only because of what they have done to me but also because of what they are doing to the prisoners. If I lie, they can sue me for libel.”
This comes amid major scrutiny on CCF following the deaths and suicides by inmates under his tenure. An inquiry into the prison has been launched, while two wardens face criminal charges over the death of a female inmate.
Cassar confirmed a number of crucial details, like the use of archaic punishment chair by Dalli on inmates.
“I saw him use the chair. It is placed in the central hall, to be seen from four divisions,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also claimed that he was informed that when 16 migrants were sent to prison for the involvement in a riot at the Ħal Far Detention Center, they were stripped and beaten upon their arrival.
“Prisons have been taken back to the Middle Ages. Everything is black. Black walls. Black doors. Dalli wanted the military,” he said.
Cassar, it should be noted, was dismissed from CCF by Dalli. He conceded he made mistakes, however, an Ombudsman has ruled that his dismissal was unfair.
The claims have put the prison and its director under increased pressure – with Azzopardi, one of the system’s most vociferous critics, demanding that action must be taken.
“The Minister [Byron Camilleri] says he wants the facts – but how many facts must there be for the Minister to take radical action? Is everyone lying outside the prison leadership?” he told Lovin Malta.
“First there was no chair. Then when a photo was published, they said it was only used once. Then they said it was used several times on the orders of a doctor. There is a man ready to testify before an inquiry who is ready to confirm that he was put in the chair for eight hours as a form of torture.”
Azzopardi said that he hoped that the inquiry, which was appointed by the ministry, was talking to these crucial testimonies. He demanded that police investigate.
“It’s not right that we put people who stole a can of tuna oil in prison yet do not take criminal action against those in power, who seemingly can continue to do what they want,” he said.
What do you think of the claims?