Updated 2pm with PN statement
Prison boss Robert Brincau stepped down from his post on Tuesday, shortly after a court found him guilty of a range of offences including injuring a man and carrying a gun without a licence at Għadira Bay in August.
In the judgment, Brincau was handed a 12-month jail term suspended for three years. He was cleared of misuse of electronic communications equipment.
In a brief statement, the government said Brincau immediately resigned from the post and the current Commissioner for the Safeguarding and Development of Prisoners, Christopher Siegersma will be appointed in his stead.
The Nationalist Party reacted to the news by saying Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri should resign, as he had initially resisted calls to fire Brincau over the court case.
Times of Malta first revealed last August that Brincau was being investigated over claims he produced a gun during a dispute.
Volunteer ambulance driver Liam Doublet had described to the court how he had "turned cold" when the 49-year-old prison boss whipped out a firearm and pointed it at his head during a tense argument.
The weapon was presented in court along with a black holster and 10 nine-millimetre bullets. It was among the list of weapons registered at CCF but not to Brincau himself.
In her judgment, magistrate Charmaine Galea observed that although Brincau's criminal record was untainted, his actions could in no way face a light punishment.
Although an effective term of imprisonment was not appropriate, in the circumstances, the court imposed punishment in such a manner that the accused needed to be very careful not to commit other offences in future.
What happened that day?
The judgment noted that Brincau had testified that he had served as Red Cross volunteer for 21 years, but now played no role in the organisation. He simply offered "support" through his "expertise" in the field.
That day, he accompanied his wife to Għadira after being informed of an argument that had broken out there.
Brincau stepped into the discussion between his wife and the ambulance driver, who worked for rival private ambulance company Alpha Medical, saying "this won't happen again".
Although, standing close, at no point were the two aggressive towards each other, Brincau claimed.
The court noted that it had been faced with two conflicting versions.
Footage from the scene, although not very clear, gave a clear picture of the dynamics of the incident and the court could very well see the accused draw something from his back pocket.
When all was considered, the court found no valid reason to doubt the victims' version, the judgement said.
The court also issued a three-year restraining order in favour of the victims, the confiscation of the firearm and bullets involved.
Testifying previously, Doublet had described how the incident happened on on August 21, when the ambulance driver for Alpha Medical transferred a man suffering from chest pains to Mater Dei Hospital despite the Red Cross official saying another ambulance was on its way.
When Doublet returned to the beach at about 5.30pm, they tended to a woman who was stung by a hornet and needed immediate treatment.
Brincau had approached him and warned him not to meddle with the Red Cross. It was at that point that Brincau drew out a firearm and pointed it at his head, Doublet testified.
In video shot by a nurse who was on the scene, Brincau is heard saying: "I'll kill you and your family," the court heard. Lawyer Edmond Cuschieri appeared parte civile. Superintendent Priscilla Caruana Lee and Inspector Ryan Vella prosecuted.
Brincau was only appointed prison director in November 2021 after his predecessor Alex Dalli stepped aside following allegations of abuse of prisoners and a series of suicides.
When Brincau was initially charged with the offences, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri refused to suspend him, saying he wanted to wait for the outcome of the courts.
His replacement, Christopher Siegersma, a nurse by profession, was previously tasked with implementing the recommendations of an inquiry that called for a major overhaul at Corradino Correctional Facility.
Minister should resign or be removed - PN
In a statement, the Nationalist Party said this and other developments should lead the Home Affairs Minister to resign or else be removed by the Prime Minister.
It said it had insisted Brincau should be suspended when the news that he was being charged in court had come out.
But Minister Byron Camilleri had then said he did not want to create a vacuum in the administration of the prisons, seemingly giving the impression that there was no one who was capable of holding this position, even if for a temporary period.
For the PN, the fact that Brincau had now been found guilty by the courts did not in any way mitigate the wrong decision Camilleri had taken, a decision that had continued to create the culture that everyone could do what they wanted without having to face consequences or shouldering responsibility.
This had increased the politics of impunity and increased the risk for security in Malta, PN spokesman Joe Giglio said.
He added that the minister had now received the biggest certificate that he was not fit from purpose from the Prime Minister himself who admitted he was not confident of having his daughter wandering around Valletta on her own.
Besides, the minister’s lack of ability could also be seen in the lack of motivation among police officers, the lack of direction within the army and the collapsed systems within Identity Malta.