Updated 6.30pm with PN statement

A prisoner has died in hospital, eight days after his attempted suicide sparked an inquiry into mental health procedures in prison.  

Colin Galea died at Mater Dei on Tuesday, his heartbroken brother confirmed in a Facebook post.

"RIP bro, I love you and I will always love you," Claudio Galea wrote. "Please help us. I feel devastated."

The 30-year-old had been in intensive care since he was found unconscious in his cell at Corradino Correctional Facility just after 5pm on August 8.

He has become the 13th prisoner to die since 2018 and the second so far this year. 

Hours after the incident, a board was tasked with reviewing suicide prevention measures at the prison and to evaluate support measures for drug dependents. 

Corradino Correctional Services have said that the inmate was not on suicide watch and had "never indicated threats of suicide”.

Reacting to news of the latest death, Andrew Azzopardi, Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta, called for resignations. 

"Now, I repeat now, the Director Colonel, the group around him and Minister Byron Camilleri must resign," he said. "People’s lives are not cheap.The life of a prisoner is no less valuable than that of others."

Victim found by cellmate

The victim was found by his cellmate, Anthony Borg, who shared with Times of Malta the details of the disturbing moment and the days leading up to it.

He described how he last saw his friend alive between 4-5pm when prisoners are allowed to leave their cell.

"At 4pm I was going to leave the cell and I asked him to join me, but he said he’d rather stay inside because he wasn’t in the mood. I did not suspect a thing,” he said.

“I left him sitting in his cell, making a cup of coffee.

“At 5pm I returned to the cell because our time was up and before the guard opened the door I peeped through the peephole but didn’t see him. Then I looked through the keyhole and I saw him hanging from the window.”

Anthony Borg speaks about his cellmate. Video: Karl Andrew Micallef

Borg said the victim had expressed suicidal thoughts with him in the past three weeks 

“I always talked him out of it, telling him the worst is over and that he would soon be out of jail,” he said

Galea had begged wardens not to transfer him to Division 12, Borg claimed, telling them he would despair there because he would not be able to do anything. 

"He told them he wanted to work, and you cannot work in Division 12,” Borg said. “The conditions there are horrible.”

“They wouldn’t listen. ‘It’s an order,’ they kept telling us. Three days after they transferred us, he took his life.”

The tragic incident has sparked outrage amongst prisoners’ rights campaigners, who are deeply critical of conditions under the leadership of prison director Alex Dalli.

In response, the Correction Services Agency has defended its procedures and insisted that inmates are “treated with respect”.

PN: Prison needs urgent reform

The Nationalist Party said in a statement that the death was yet another sign that CCF needed to be urgently - and radically - reformed. 

"It is clear that both minister Byron Camilleri and the current prison administration have lost all credibility to assure this," it said, as it called for CCF's existing leadership to be removed "immediately".  

"Another inquiry is not going to solve existing problems," the PN said.   

If you need emotional support, you can call Richmond Malta’s helpline on 1770. Alternatively, type OLLI. Chat on your desktop, mobile or tablet browser to chat with a professional 24/7.


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