Charges of involuntary homicide have been filed against six WasteServ employees over the death of a man at the incinerator two years ago.

Joseph Ellul, 38, from Marsaxlokk, was found dead at the entrance of an elevator at the abattoir in Marsa on May 10, 2022. He had suffered lacerations to his throat.

Sources said charges were filed in court by prosecutors from the police and the Attorney General’s office. The case is due to be heard by Magistrate Nadine Lia on June 10.

The six employees of the national waste management entity are chief executive officer Richard Bilocca, company workers Ryan Mark Cachia, Ryan Cauchi and Aylin Fleri, and health and safety officials Stefan Salamone and Silvan Borg.

The six men were identified in the magisterial inquiry into the fatal case, with the magistrate concluding that there was enough prima facie evidence to institute criminal proceedings for involuntary homicide.

Magistrate Elaine Rizzo, who conducted the inquiry, laid out the health and safety failings identified by court experts. Among other things, the lift hatch had no guards, mesh or protective features in place.

The inquiry report notes that Bilocca testified that the machinery was not “childproof” and attributed the death to an “act of stupidity”.

Ellul, who used to operate machines at the thermal treatment facility, died when he stuck his head in the hatch to check a piece of equipment that was not functioning properly, according to court experts.

According to the inquiring magistrate, all six ought to be charged with involuntarily causing Ellul’s death through breaches of health and safety regulations.

Cachia, Cauchi and Bilocca should also be charged with failing to take precautions to prevent such incidents, in breach of the criminal code.

In March, former Nationalist MP and lawyer Jason Azzopardi published the findings of the magisterial inquiry, claiming that the attorney general’s office had spent a year sitting on the magistrate’s advice to prosecute the men.

The inquiry also recommended that several witnesses be prosecuted for perjury as it believed they had lied under oath to cover up what actually happened and derail the investigation.

Through their lawyers Franco Debono, Francesca Zarb and Marion Camilleri, Ellul’s mother and sister, Pasqualina Ellul and Carmen Bonnici, are demanding that the six men, along with the company, pay them damages.

WasteServ has consistently said that it cannot comment on the incident since legal proceedings are under way, adding that the company’s management and employees “steadfastly reject any accusations – directly or indirectly – that they were responsible for their colleague’s tragic death.”

“Joseph Ellul died as a result of an unforeseeable accident, which left employees shocked and traumatised by the death of their valued colleague. WasteServ continues to express full solidarity with the victim’s family for the tragic loss,” the company added.

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