Prisoners on hunger strike: they want prison director back

Lt. Col. Alex Dalli had suspended himself after he and his leadership came under investigation by the Police and also the Ombudsman while several magisterial inquiries and other ministerial inquiries are ongoing.

The Ministry of Interior has confirmed that ten prisoners are carrying out a hunger strike with the intent of having Lt. Col. Alex Dalli return as Prison Director.

Lt. Col. Dalli “suspended himself” last week, after another prisoner committed suicide in prison. This was the third suicide this year and so far during Dalli’s leadership, there have been a total of 14.

The Ministry confirmed to local English-language web-news portal Lovin Malta that ten prisoners were on this hunger strike and it insisted that as per standing procedure, a medical team is assisting prisoners.

The persistent revelations by Maltese-language web-news portal and paper ILLUM, particularly about armed threats, the Police has called in some people and is investigating Lt. Col. Dalli and his leadership. Added to this, Tv-chat show host and personality Peppi Azzopardi has revealed that there were four prisoners who found enough courage and asked to speak to the Police.

On November 4th, the Ombudsman had also opened an inquiry into the conduct of operations at the prison.

This was apart from the ongoing ministerial inquiry and several other magisterial inquiries into prison deaths. Despite all these investigations, Lt. Col. Dalli retained his apopointment upto Wednesday itself and then he suspended himself following the last suicide that happened.

A petition as well for Dalli return

Much prior to the hunger strike, university academic Dr Simon Mercieca had revealed via a blogpost on his webpage that some prisoners at the prisons were petitioning Alex Dalli to be re-appointed as director.

Mercieca wrote that the “prisoners want a director who is with them from morning till evening. For them, a director is not an individual who is “too good” and kindhearted. That would mean that drug traffickers will re-infiltrate and retake the prison.”

He carried on by writing that “prisoners and their relatives are angry at the fact that the Minister responsible for the prison, Dr Byron Camilleri, had accepted the self-suspension of Alex Dalli. It muts be recalled that Dalli had of his own accord suspended himself after the tragic death of Arun Jose.”

The academic asserts that from information that he gathered from among the prisoners who want Dalli back, there are some who have in the past started law suits against the director himself.

Dr Mercieica stated that these days, the talk among prisoners and their relatives is one. And this is their fear that the prison will again be flooded with drugs, while those who were abusing and had lost drug sales business revenue during Dalli’s time in office, want this self-suspension to be called a resignation and bring his tenure to a complete end, while they return to continueing making money in prison from the corruption they would be conducting.

In concluding, Mercieca said that apparenty what is important for the media and those who want to earn money from corruption, is to have a “good hearted” or “good” director who in prison jargon means that is “weak”, so that drug traffickers would take over the prison and it is again led by criminals.