Detention centres lack trained officers capable of responding effectively to riots and unrest among detainees, a senior prosecuting inspector has said in court.

“We need someone like the prisons director who effected a great change, almost a miracle, in the last years. We need trained officials to handle these situations,” said prosecuting Inspector Trevor Micallef.

“I have a duty to inform the public, to let them know what’s going on. Valuable resources are being wasted. Police officers should be on patrol elsewhere.”

Inspector Micallef’s reference to a “prisons director” was in reference to Corradino Correctional Facility director  Colonel Alexander Dalli, who has adopted a hard line in the prison and who last July claimed while testifying that “there are no drugs in prison”.

The inspector was speaking during the arraignment of eight men currently detained at the Safi barracks. All eight allegedly tried escape last Wednesday but were caught close to the airport perimeter.

Kamal Nakraoui, Ajaj Abdul Malek Mohamed, Issa Mahmoud, Haruba Megid, Salah Garbi, Rachi Abdbusit, Yousef Sauilah and Shiriki Abdulan, five Algerian nationals, one Moroccan, one Libyan and one Egyptian, ages ranging between 22 and 32, were charged with escaping from custody on Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecuting Inspector Trevor Micallef explained how the men had allegedly escaped by scaling a fence. Fortunately, they were caught before managing to enter the territory of the Malta International Airport.

The court, presided over by magistrate Joseph Mifsud, called for the asylum process to be expedited and augured that Europe could cooperate to end tragedies at sea.

“All must grasp this and shoulder responsibility,” said Magistrate Mifsud, stressing that life was to be protected “from conception to the grave.”

After some lengthy consultation with their legal aid lawyer, Francine Abela, assisted by an interpreter, all men pleaded not guilty.

They were remanded in custody.