Gozitan facing slow death in prison after kidney treatment wasn't administered

The man filed a judicial protest this morning arguing that the situation was ‘illegal and a violation of his basic human rights’

Bartolo said he had not been administered his treatment in prison and that a kidney he had recieved from a donor had been rejected as a result
Bartolo said he had not been administered his treatment in prison and that a kidney he had recieved from a donor had been rejected as a result

An inmate at the Corradino Correctional facility, who says his transplanted kidney was lost because he was not given anti-rejection drugs during his incarceration, has filed legal proceedings against the authorities.

36-year-old Christopher Bartolo of Fontana, Gozo was jailed for five years and fined €15,000 last April after he pleaded guilty to trafficking 1.5kg of cannabis resin to avoid a trial by jury.

Despite the charges, a court expert had confirmed that only 167.52 grams of cannabis were found. He was eventually charged with drug trafficking as well as the possession of cannabis in circumstances denoting it was not for his personal use, after he had released a statement during his interrogation in which larger amount had been computed. 

In her sentence, judge Edwina Grima had noted that Bartolo started dabbling in drugs after being diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease and would use cannabis to ease the pain of his condition. He had lost his job and ended up being confined to a wheelchair due to the ravages of the condition, the court noted, saying that this had led him to start trafficking cannabis – although the court also held that this “certainly did not justify his actions.”

His life changed for the better whilst he had been waiting for his trial as he had received a kidney transplant from a live donor in 2014 and had managed to hold down a regular job and start a family. The strain of his ordeal had pushed him into depression, for which he was also being treated.

But after his admission to Corradino Correctional Facility in April, Bartolo claims that he was not being given the right food or medical care by the prison authorities.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Bartolo's lawyer Maxilene Pace explained that he had lost the transplanted kidney because, while in prison, he had not been administered the anti-rejection drugs normally given to transplant patients. 

The judicial protest filed this morning describes the situation as “illegal and a violation of basic human rights, as sanctioned by the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights” and calls on the director of Corradino Correctional Facility, together with the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government and the Attorney General to see to it that Bartolo receives the medical care he needs, warning that they would be held criminally and civilly responsible if this did not happen.

More in Court & Police

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition