Young prisoner Ihtisham Ihtisham died in his cell at Malta’s prison due to a heart condition, an autopsy has ruled.
Ihtisham, a 25-year-old Pakistani national, suddenly died on Thursday, the latest in a series of deaths at the prison which raised questions about the conditions there.
However, sources close to the investigation informed Lovin Malta that an autopsy ruled that Ihtisham died from cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle which can lead to heart failure.
Sources said that this condition wasn’t listed on Ihtisham’s health report, meaning the inmate might have been unaware he suffered from it. Indeed, his family have said he was in good health.
A toxicology report on Ihtisham’s body came back clean and there were no signs of violence.
Lovin Malta yesterday revealed the identity of Ihtisham, who was serving a six-month sentence for being in possession of a forged document and who was set to be released on Christmas Day.
His lawyer Jacques Grima said the inmate’s family was left shocked at the way the prison treated them when they asked for information about his death.
“At this stage the family are under shock and would like to express their utmost disappointment at the correctional facility for depriving them of their basic right to be informed about the medical state of their family member,” Grima said.
“It is unacceptable that in a country which upholds the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights, we allow a human life to be lost with such blatant disregard to the person’s life.”
Earlier today, NGO Repubblika called for prison director Col. Alex Dalli to be sacked and for the new prison administration to be temporarily supervised by a parliamentary committee.
“The government should not wait any longer to determine that systemic failings are most likely leading to these deaths,” Repubblika said.
“It is now essential to determine that prison is not ruled through measures amounting to torture or systematic abuse.”
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri ruled out calling a public inquiry into the prison’s conditions, stating he “has full faith in the independent entities which are tasked with monitoring conditions in prison”
“While every death is a cause for sorrow, it must be stated that the outright majority of deaths occurring in prison are a result of natural causes,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Correctional Services Agency also played down concerns about prison conditions, referring to the recent “severe” reduction of drug use, the engagement of more care professionals and more prisoners being in employment.