Three young men charged with hijacking a vessel are being allowed just one hour outside their cell at the high-security division of the adults’ prison in Corradino, the Times of Malta has learned.

Lawyer Neil Falzon confirmed his clients – aged 15, 16 and 19 – were being held in the high-security division of the prison. Keeping the two minors in an adults’ prison would be in breach of magistrate’s orders to give them full State care, he argued.

The three teens have pleaded not guilty to charges of seizing a vessel through the use or threat of force and intimidation. The “seized vessel” made its way to Malta last week with some 100 people aboard after the captain of the El Hiblu 1 told authorities he was not in control of the vessel.

Read: Three teens charged with terrorist activity in ship hijacking case

If found guilty, the three teens face between seven and 30 years behind bars.

“We demand to know who took this decision and on what criteria. We remind the authorities that our clients are young men who are to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise,” Dr Mifsud said.

We demand to know who took this decision

“We fear the damage already done to their well-being but hope justice will prevail,” he said.

Speaking to Times of Malta on Friday, Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia insisted he could not disclose where the teenagers were being kept.

He also said he had no say in the circumstances, arguing it was the Corradino Correctional Facility’s director’s responsibility to see where the accused were kept.

Asked whether it would be in breach of the magistrate’s orders if the youngsters were not kept at a youth section of the prison, Dr Farrugia said he did not interfere with the decisions of the director at CCF.

Attempts to reach prisons’ director Alexander Dalli proved futile by the time of writing.

Asked about the fate of some 100 people who disembarked from the vessel last week, Dr Farrugia said they were still being treated as part of the ongoing investigations.

“We also need to see if there will be legal steps taken against the ship and crew,” he said.

Last week, the Times of Malta reported police were questioning the captain’s version of events.

Investigators were looking into the possibility the skipper could have “misled” authorities by claiming he had lost control of the vessel after he rescued them off Libya.

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