Four security officers, two carers and a nurse at the St Vincent de Paul Residence have been suspended on half pay upon the instructions of the Public Service Commission following the disappearance of an elderly resident.

They were suspended after an inquiry found they had allegedly failed to follow procedures resulting in the disappearance of Carmelo Fino, also known as Karmenu and Charlie.

Sources confirmed that another carer, who was employed by a contractor and assigned to the care home, has been replaced by another employee.

All suspended workers are Maltese nationals.

The suspended nurse is Rhys Xuereb who, earlier this week, demanded a fresh inquiry into the case.

MUMN held a press conference outside the St Vincent De Paul facility on Tuesday morning. Photo: Chris Sant FounrierMUMN held a press conference outside the St Vincent De Paul facility on Tuesday morning. Photo: Chris Sant Founrier

The commission ordered their suspension from work after an internal inquiry by retired judge Geoffrey Valenzia pinned the responsibility of the man’s disappearance on the staff on duty that night.

Fino was caught on CCTV leaving the Luqa home on June 28 at 3am. The 83-year-old, who has dementia, remains missing but investigators are waiting for the results of DNA tests on a decomposed body later found in Birżebbuġa.

The tests are expected to determine whether the corpse is that of Fino or that of Salvu Bonnici, a 70-year-old man who was reported missing from Gudja last month.

According to the inquiry, the security officers left the main gate to the facility open and unguarded while the carers and the nurse did not provide a handover that would have proven whether they had carried out routine checks on residents through the night as they were meant to do in line with standard operating procedures.

Their “negligence” in properly reporting the disappearance “misled all those who were involved in the search” allowing the man to wander far from the facility.

“The inquiry concluded, among other things, that the incident occurred because basic practices that should have been followed by staff who were responsible for the care of vulnerable and senior citizens were neglected,” the judge’s conclusion says.

Action taken only after investigators identify corpse

Sources said the workers will remain suspended until the police conclude their investigations and until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings which may be taken against the staff members. However, any action can only be taken after investigators link the corpse to one of the two men.

Times of Malta reported yesterday how weak DNA samples taken from the remains found in an advanced state of decomposition in a field in Birżebbuġa more than a month ago had stalled the identification process.

Forensic experts are understood to have taken at least two samples from the remains but were still unable to match them with other DNA samples from relatives of the two missing men.

Sources said investigators believe the body is that of Fino but only DNA tests will conclusively determine this. Some damaged clothing found near the body indicates that it may have been what he was wearing at the time that he disappeared from the home for the elderly.

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