Updated 6pm with CCF's reply

Popular presenter Peppi Azzopardi has torn into the prison authorities after a 29-year-old woman with a drug problem committed suicide at Corradino Correctional Facility. 

The prison authorities were aware that the inmate wanted to take her life, and yet failed to do anything about it, the Xarabank presenter charged in a fiery post uploaded on social media. 

"What is this vindictive prison doing? Imprisoned addicts, who are forced to stop taking drugs cold turkey, are locked up in cells for 23 hours with nothing in the room. And all this to pay them back."

Video: Xarabank, editing: Karl Andrew Micallef

He said the victim was not given access to a drug rehabilitation programme, and was instead being forced into ruthless incarceration. Azzopardi said the authorities will fail to release the magisterial inquiry's conclusions into the death and claimed that prisoners had been blocked from making phone contact with Xarabank.

The woman received a two-year imprisonment sentence after admitting to six counts of fraud and theft last February. She was also accused of violating the conditions of previous suspended sentences.

In delivering the sentence, the court considered the fact that the accused had co-operated with the police, her admission at an early stage, and her desire to undergo a drug rehabilitation programme.

The woman was hospitalised in the early morning of June 16 after being given first aid by doctors and nurses at the prison. 

The prison authorities said the woman had been receiving regular psychological monitoring and had last met a mental health expert on June 3. A psychiatric report indicated that she was making progress and was not a suicide risk, CCF emphasised. 

In reply to questions by Times of Malta, the home affairs ministry insisted the prisoner was never kept in solitary confinement. 

Since the individual was highly dependent on drugs, regular meetings with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists were held and a care plan was prepared so as to help the dependency on methadone decrease gradually.

"Following consultations with the psychiatrist this dependency decreased gradually and it was also concluded that the individual did not have any suicidal thoughts at the time."

The ministry said the victim was awaiting the decision of the Prison Addiction Rehabilitation Management Board regarding an application to start a drug rehabilitation programme. 



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