Prison restraint chair hated by inmates exists, minister admits, ‘but locked away somewhere’

Opposition accuses home affairs minister Byron Camilleri of twisting facts over alleged use of a punishment chair at the Corradino Correctional Facility  

Prison Director Alex Dalli
Prison Director Alex Dalli

Home Affairs minister Bryon Camilleri has insisted that no punishment chair exists in prison, but restraining devices can still be used by facility personnel.  

The minister was interviewed on TVM’s L-Erbgħa Fost il-Gimgħa together with Opposition spokesperson Beppe Fenech Adami.  

A number of reports were released in the last months over the use of a punishment chair on inmates by Corradino Correctional Facility workers.  

MaltaToday had reported how career criminal Alfred Bugeja, known as ‘il-Porporina’, had been strapped to the chair following unruly behaviour. Sources said Bugeja had been strapped to the infamous chair following a disagreement with prison officials over the use of uniforms for inmates. 

While Camilleri denied the existence or use of a punishment chair, he did say that a restraint chair had been used to calm down an inmate.  “If you have someone who is hurting himself, other prisoners or officials, what do you prefer? Restraint measures being used as a last resort? Or that they are tasered or stopped in other ways?” Camilleri said.  

He said restraining devices were in line with Council of Europe regulation on prisons, but also added that the chair had been locked away somewhere in the facility. “If needed, and approved by the necessary professionals like doctors and psychologists, the chair can be used,” Camilleri said.

Yet Beppe Fenech Adami accused Byron Camilleri of twisting facts when speaking about the chair. “You have changed your version around a thousand times. The latest version is that there is a chair, but it is locked away,” he told Camilleri.  

The MP said around 185 prison cells within the facility are overpopulated. “We have 16 individual cells holding more than two people a cell.

He called out prison director Alex Dalli for having affixed a notice  at the entrance of the correctional facility announcing the role of the prison being “to teach fear”. 

“We have a country where the prisoner director sees no issue with sticking signs saying that he is tasked with teaching fear to prisoners,” he said.  

Fenech Adami called on the minister to remove Dalli from his post, after learning that certain inmates were being granted more privileges by being more subservient to the director than others.