Magisterial inquiries into four prison deaths last year have concluded that three of them were due to natural causes, while one was a suicide.

The inquiry conclusions, seen by Times of Malta, found that all the prisoners had underlying heart conditions that went undetected throughout their lives.

A total of 12 prisoners died while serving time at Corradino Correctional Facility over the past three years. Most of the inquiries into the deaths in 2018 and 2019 have not yet been concluded.

The most recent case involved a 29-year-old woman who died in hospital about two weeks after she was found unconscious in her cell following a suicide attempt. She had a severe drug problem and had been serving a two-year jail term since February but psychiatrists had not placed her on suicide watch. An inquiry is ongoing.

An inquiry by Magistrate Charmaine Galea concluded that Pakistani national Ihtisham Ihtisham, 25, has structural abnormalities of the heart muscle.

This was only diagnosed during microscopic analysis as part of the autopsy. The cause of death was down to cardiomyopathy. He was found dead in his cell on November 19 when officers went to check on him after he failed to appear for the morning fall-in.

On September 5, 45-year-old Gordon Calleja was found dead in his cell. The authorities said he died of natural causes, but his family expressed doubts given his age. An inquiry by Magistrate (now Judge) Neville Camilleri found that the inmate had an undiagnosed ischemic heart disease. He too had been found dead in his cell at 6.30am during the morning fall-in.

Prisoner John Attard, 72, who was serving time for his complicity in the stabbing of traffic warden Fortunata Spiteri in 2001, was found dead in his division 2 cell. An inquiry by Magistrate Joseph Mifsud found he had died of coronary artery disease. He had called a relative the previous day to say he was not feeling well.

On September 7, Nazzareno Mifsud, 57, was found dead in his division three cell. He was facing an extradition request from the US for molesting two boys. An inquiry by Magistrate Charmaine Galea concluded he had died of asphyxia due to hanging. The authorities had also found a suicide note addressed to his daughter.

Magisterial inquiries into six of the remaining seven prison deaths have not been concluded. According to law, magisterial inquiries are mandatory over deaths that occur in prison or in places of confinement.

An inquiry by Magistrate Joe Mifsud over the death of a 35-year-old prisoner in June 2018 found he had died of coronary artery thrombosis.

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