A Nigerian inmate is claiming he was “humiliated” by a full-body search, accused of being a ringleader and transferred into another division the day after he complained about prison food.

Joseph Feilazoo said that the morning after he complained, he was woken up abruptly at 6.30am and taken to a room where he was stripped and “forced to squat and the orifices of his body were searched”.

Mr Feilazoo made these allegations in a judicial protest, filed in the First Hall of the Civil Court, against the director of the Corradino Correctional Facility and the Home Affairs’ Minister.

He was stripped and forced to squat and the orifices of his body were searched

In the protest Mr Feilazoo said that when he was jailed for 12 years in August 2008 for importing drugs into Malta he had in his possession valuable items including jewellery.

These were taken from him by the prison authorities on entering jail but he was not given a receipt. He recently discovered some items were no longer in the possession of the prison authorities.

He asked for an investigation and wanted to file a police report. But, he said, the prison director only allowed him to file the report after he insisted for several months during which time he tried to send letters to the Police Commissioner, the Home Affairs’ Minister, the prison director and to Times of Malta. Police took his statement in November 2013.

(In November Times of Malta published an interview carried out with Mr Feilazoo in prison. Mr Feilazoo was also one of the foreign inmates who participated in two hunger strikes – in June and July 2013 – that were reported.)

In the protest Mr Feilazoo said that on December 3, 2013, he complained about the food served in prison. The following day he was woken up abruptly at about 6.30am, handcuffed, and his cell was searched. He was “dragged” into an office and examined by a nurse.

He was then taken into another room where he was stripped and searched. After being “humiliated” he was only given his underwear and a blanket that smelt of urine.

A Major Peter Vella told him this happened because he complained and he was also accused of being a ringleader, he said.

He remained in the cold room until about 8pm when a doctor examined him. The doctor told Mr Feilazoo he had given the orders to remove his clothes after being told he was suicidal. But Mr Feilazoo insisted this was not the case.

He was then taken to a medical room where he spent the night. On December 5 he was transferred to Division 5 – that had fewer facilities than other divisions.

As a result of this transfer he could no longer work, namely building Playmobil toys, and was stopped from continuing his studies in accountancy. After spending about 100 days in Division 5 he was moved to Division 1 and allowed to continue working and studying.

The protest was filed by lawyers Alfred Grech and Larry Formosa.

The Ministry for Home Affairs said the prison authorities would reply to the judicial protest and were seeking advice.

“On a general note, the ministry condemns any unfair treatment and for this reason… has launched activities and press events in prison so journalists can see with their eyes what is going on in the facility,” a ministry spokeswoman said adding that this did not take place under the previous administration.

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