Prison guards charged with involuntary homicide of Kim Borg Virtu

Prison guard and former colleague charged with involuntary homicide of female inmate who committed suicide in June 2021

A prison guard and her former colleague have been charged with the involuntary homicide of a female inmate who committed suicide in June this year.

Kimberly (Kim) Borg Nicolas Virtu had attempted suicide in prison and later died at Mater Dei Hospital three weeks later.

Alison Vassallo 41, from Fgura and Annabelle Cauchi 51, from Zebbug, pleaded not guilty to the charges before magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo this morning.

The pair were arraigned by summons, and so no bail request was necessary. Their lawyers informed the court that they had no objection to summary proceedings.

A magisterial inquiry had previously found that the two warders had failed to stick to protocols, leading to the prisoner’s death. They were also charged with committing a crime they were duty-bound to prevent.

Involuntary homicide carries a maximum prison term of four years and/or a fine of €11,000.

Inspector Paul Camilleri took the stand. He was involved from the very start, he said. As soon as the police were told of a suicide attempt by Borg Nicholas Virtu, he had gone to the facility, where he found staff administering CPR to the unconscious inmate. The woman was taken to Mater Dei hospital, where she later died, he said.

The inspector confirmed the charges on oath. Cross-examination was reserved until the defence was given time to see the case file.

Police Sergeant Gary Saliba Di Stefano also testified to confirm the contents of a report that he had compiled on oath.

The prosecution said that the majority of the testimony had already been collected in the inquiry.

The case is to continue in the New Year.

Lawyer Rachel Tua is appearing as parte civile for Kim’s family.

Lawyers Herman Mula, Mario Mifsud and Christian Camilleri are defending the accused.