Civil courts director Frank Mercieca has been appointed chairman of  a board which will investigate why four prison guards were not at their post on Sunday evening.

Their absence was noticed when Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia made a surprise visit to the facility in Corradino.

The other members on the board are Civil Protection Department director Patrick Murgo and Probation and Parole director Natalino Attard.

They have to conclude their report by April 24.

Dr Mallia asked the board to establish why the officers had not been at their place of work, the time they left, whether such abuses had been carried out at other times and by whom.

If the board proved abuse, it should establish the length of time it had been going on and if there was collusion with other prison workers.

The minister asked the board to consult with the administrate staff and to refer to CCTV footage, log books at the main and other gates as well as attendance sheets.

The new board is separate from another board set up to look into various practices at the prison.

RESIGNATION ACCEPTED

Meanwhile, the minister has accepted the resignation of the Director of Prisons, Abraham Zammit.

His place will be temporarily filled by Assistant Police Commissioner Ray Zammit. A permanent appointment will be made in 10 days' time.

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