Yorgen Fenech hunger strike: he refused foreign inmates in his cell

Yorgen Fenech among inmates on hunger strike over COVID-19 quarantine • CCF operations head says Fenech refusing foreign inmates

The man accused of masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, has begun a hunger strike to protest the allocation of two new inmates to his cell, allegedly without being kept in quarantine.

But the Corradino Correctional Facility is insising that Fenech’s specific complaint was that two inmates were foreign nationals.

Fenech, who has one kidney, is claiming the new inmates pose a health risk to him and had not been sufficiently quarantined, a source close to the family told MaltaToday.

 

He is one of a group of inmates that reportedly went on hunger strike, citing “humanitarian reasons”, which the CCF has confirmed and said that prisoners were being monitored by the CCF doctors.

“The system of privileges these prisoners have are the same as in other divisions. They get their privileges according to their behaviour or their action as concerns their discipline,” Randolph Spiteri, CCF head of operations, said.

Fenech has been held at a high security section of Corradino Correctional Facility since his arrest last year. Various attempts at bail have been refused by the courts.

Fenech’s defence counsel, Gianluca Caruana Curran, insisted that his client’s decision to go on a hunger strike was part of a decision taken by the entire division in response to “unacceptably harsh conditions” within Corradino Correctional Facility. “We stress that the decision has nothing to do with the colour of one’s skin or race,” referring to reports that Fenech was protesting the fact that the inmates were black.

“Such references are deplorable and solely intended to inflame and twist perceptions. Yorgen Fenech took the decision along with the whole division based on the living conditions which by any measure are highly problematic.”

Fenech’s lawyer said the man had been held in a crowded room for the past months “with a latrine shared between all the inmates, a shared one-foot by one-foot basin to be used for personal hygiene, cleaning of dishes, clothes and linen by all inmates, and not enough ventilation.”

“The already degenerate situation has now been made unbearable in the sweltering Maltese 40-degree summer. Inmates sick with diarrhoea and vomiting all penned up in the same cramped living space makes the situation unbearable. This, not even mentioning the worsening of living conditions due to COVID 19 in the prison facilities,” Caruana Curran said.

He reminded that Fenech is still presumed innocent, but “is only allowed 15-30 minutes a week to see his children and family.” This morning that right was revoked “with no apparent reason,” added the lawyer.

Fenech’s defence team also hit out at ongoing leaks of information relating to the evidence against him, saying these “are damaging to Yorgen Fenech’s fair trial rights and the administration of justice” and urged all parties involved to exercise due diligence in protecting these rights.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Correctional Services Agency confirmed that three Maltese prisoners had started a hunger strike.

“The specific reason given to prison officials is that they did not want new prisoners, who happened to be foreign, in their division.”

The hunger strike began late yesterday afternoon and the prisoners’ health was being monitored by doctors at the facility. "The system of privileges in the division is the same as all other prisoners’ and depends on the behaviour and actions of the inmates in the interests of discipline in the prison,” reads the statement.

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