Strict quarantine measures are limiting prison inmates’ access to lawyers with some raising concerns over the practice.
Lawyers who spoke to Malta Today described how their clients spend a 14-day quarantine period in solitary confinement upon arrival and get an hour to clean their cell, exercise and speak to their legal representative.
“Even then, you speak to your client from behind a Perspex window, while family members of other inmates are sat next to you speaking to their relatives. You cannot even take in documents with you, because the prison officials bar you from doing so, unless you file a special request which is not always met,” they said.
The issue comes amid a renewed focus on Malta’s prison following the death of yet another inmate under the tenure of director Alex Dalli.
Malta’s Home Affairs Ministry insisted that prisoners do have access to their lawyers insisting that the quarantine period following current public health regulations. No formal complaints have been filed.
However, legal sources raised concerns with Lovin Malta over potential conflicts of interest in the case – noting that the prison lawyer, Mario Mifsud, who also represents Dalli, also works on criminal cases and could be benefitting from different levels of access to present and potential clients.
Mifsud has denied any claims of conflicts of interest to Lovin Malta. However, sources warned that Mifsud is a man who has a wide range of conflicts beyond his relationship with Dalli.
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