Shocking case of man released from jail despite court denying him bail prompts call for inquiry

A man accused of threatening his wife and who was being held at Corradino Correctional Facility on preventive custody walked out of prison despite having been denied bail multiple times • Jason Azzopardi asks for public inquiry

Updated at 8:30 pm with home affairs reaction 

A man who was supposed to have been in prison, was released from the Corradino Correctional Facility with no explanation last month despite the court denying him bail.

The shocking case was flagged by a sharp-eyed magistrate on Tuesday morning, who noticed that the man walked into the courtroom unescorted by prison guards. Magistrate Doreen Clarke who was presiding over the case ordered his immediate arrest.

When the magistrate queried the matter, the police inspector said the man had been released from prison in July.

The magistrate has also asked for a formal explanation from the authorities on the matter.

Sejha ghall-Inkjesta Pubblika urgenti Wara dak li sehh dalghodu quddiem il-Qorti tal-Magistrati (Malta) qed insejjah 'l...

Posted by Jason Azzopardi on Tuesday, 11 August 2020

The man, who was charged in May for threatening his wife and breaking a protection order, had a request for bail turned down multiple times, including by Judge Aaron Bugeja at around mid-July.

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has called for a public inquiry into the case. He claimed in a Facebook post that the CCF authorities let the man go on 19 July. “They opened his prison cell, and the prison doors and let him walk out,” Azzopardi said.

Calling for a public inquiry, Azzopardi said it was “scandalous” that it had to be the magistrate to notice such an irregularity.

“There needs to be a public inquiry presided over by a sitting judge to determine how in this country we are now opening prison cells so that a person denied bail by court once, twice and three times is allowed to walk free,” he said.

He also said that Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri had to shoulder political responsibility for this grave incident.

Home Affairs minister launches inquiry

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri ordered an inquiry into the case, in order to establish the facts surrounding the incident.

The inquiry will be led by judge Joseph Azzopardi.

In a statement, the home affairs ministry said the inquiry will establish the facts and offer recommendations it feels should be adopted.

The inquiry has a 20-day deadline.

Preliminary information indicates the prisoner in question had other cases besides the one he testified in today.

Prison director does not comment

Prison director Lt Col Alex Dalli told MaltaToday that he has given the Home Affairs Minister an explanation, but will not be commenting about the case in public.

“I have given my explanation to the home affairs minister and will leave it up to the politicians to communicate with the media,” Dalli said when asked whether he would be calling for an investigation into the case.

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