A St Vincent de Paul Residence nurse suspected of involvement in the disappearance of resident Carmelo Fino last June has requested immediate reinstatement after six months elapsed since he was suspended without charge, Times of Malta has learnt.
Rhys Xuereb has written to the Public Service Commission with the request.
He is one of seven workers who were suspended on half pay upon the instructions of the PSC following Fino’s disappearance. The others are four security officers and two carers.
They were suspended after an inquiry concluded they had failed to follow procedures resulting in the disappearance of an elderly resident. All suspended workers are Maltese nationals.
Xuereb had demanded a fresh inquiry into the case since the first inquiry was concluded without even taking his version of events.
His lawyer, Chris Cilia, explained in the letter that, according to the standard public service rulebook, when an officer is suspended for precautionary purposes and criminal charges have still not been issued against them six months after the date of suspension, they may ask the commission to consider lifting the suspension.
The commission shall then ask the head of department for an opinion and will decide whether its original recommendation should be confirmed or revoked, before making a recommendation to the prime minister accordingly.
Cilia told the commission that Xuereb had been suspended on August 5 and that, since then, no criminal procedures were instituted against him.
Sources said no one had spoken to him about the matter and neither had he been called in by police. Xuereb is due to appear before the inquiring magistrate next week – it will be the first time he will be giving his version of events.
Fino, an 83-year-old resident at St Vincent de Paul, wandered out of the care home in the middle of the night on June 28 and was found dead a couple of weeks later.
CCTV footage showed him walking towards the main gate and then towards the guard room. Then, momentarily, he seems like he was going to return but changes his mind, turns around and walks out of the gate, which was open.
Hospital regulations oblige night security staff to close the main gate between 11pm and 7am. The gate must only be opened when ambulances, food catering and other services come in during the night and must be closed immediately after they leave.
CCTV footage showed the gate was left open for most of that night.