Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri has brushed off suggestions that a public inquiry is necessary in order for the government to reassure the public that the country’s prison is being administered in a humane manner befitting an EU member state.
Over the weekend, Brian Vella, an inmate serving a life sentence at the facility, submitted a court application requesting to be moved to an alternative facility, as a result of the inhumane and torturous treatment he claimed to be receiving at the Corradino Correctional Facility.
Prison authorities have denied Vella’s claims, including that he has been put in solitary confinement as a result of his court application.
Vella’s claims are the latest in a long list of accusations of inhumane and degrading treatment coming out of prison since the appointment of colonel Alexander Dalli at the facility’s helm.
Asked by Lovin Malta whether, given that allegations keep surfacing, he would consider appointing a public inquiry, or any other similarly transparent process, that could put the issue to bed once and for all, Camilleri pointed out that four magisterial inquiries into prisoners deaths had been appointed and concluded so far during his tenure.
“Each of the magisterial inquiries found that there was nothing suggesting a link between the correctional facility and the causes of death,” Camilleri insisted.
He said that the only inquiry which had called on the police to investigate further was one dating back from before 2013 into the death by overdose of a prisoner and in which the inquiry had questioned the facility’s efforts in keeping drugs out of prison.
When it was pointed out that the inquiries mentioned were specific in nature, and that perhaps a broader investigation was necessary, Camilleri again insisted that magisterial inquiries had been established to investigate each instance in which serious allegations were made.
“During my time as minister, I have taken many decisions and will continue to do so. One definitely can’t say that I have held back from taking decisions,” the minister said.
Responding to other members of the press’ questions about Vella’s claims, the minister said he had seen Vella’s application as well as the Correctional Services Agency’s reply, both in court as well as to the public.
“I have a choice before me and I could choose to come here and reveal personal details about the person. I will not do that. This has always been my principle and I will stick to it, irrespective of what is being said,” Camilleri said, adding that he had been informed that Vella was not in fact in solitary confinement.
The minister said that Vella was presently in a cell with CCTV surveillance in order to ensure his well-being but did not elaborate further.
Responding to a question from NET News about what he intends to do about the regular stream of allegations coming out of prison, Camilleri responded by pointing out that the situation in prison prior to 2013 constituted a ‘“free-for-all” while noting that significant investment had been made in the facility, including for the engagement of professional staff, in recent years.
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