Prison suicide: father sues State and prison guards for damages

The father claims that a prison guard helped his daughter kill herself by providing her with the blanket and long trousers she used in the act

The father of a prison inmate who died by suicide last July has filed Constitutional proceedings against the State, claiming that a prison guard had helped his daughter kill herself.

Martin Nicholas Borg Virtù filed an application before the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional Jurisdiction, claiming damages, after an inquiry found that there was negligence on the part of the State in the death of his daughter Kim. The application lists the State Advocate, the Minister for the Interior and National Security, the Director of Prison and prison staff members Annabel Cauchi and Alison Vassallo as defendants.

In the application, Borg Virtu’s lawyer, Rachel Tua, argued that the arbitrary stopping and starting of methadone treatment was a factor in her death.

It emerged also that some days before her suicide, Kim Borg Virtu’ had attempted suicide by slitting her wrist, said the plaintiff. Instead of adequate surveillance and constant watch required in such cases, Kim was left alone in a cell with no surveillance, argued Tua.

The plaintiff alleged that on the day of her death, Borg Virtu’ had told a prison guard, a certain Carolina, that she was going to hang herself, but instead of taking the appropriate action, Carolina had provided the suicidal inmate with a blanket and long trousers which Kim used in her suicide.

Further to this, he claimed that in the weeks prior to the suicide, the inmate had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by Carolina.

The State had the obligation to protect her life and had failed to do so, said the lawyer, citing the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitution.

She asked the court to declare that Kim Borg Virtu’s death was a result of negligence and non-observance of regulation on the part of the defendants and that this violated her fundamental rights.

The lawyer also asked the court to liquidate damages, including moral damages.

Lawyers Rachel Tua and Edmund Cuschieri signed the court application.