Updated 8.30am with CCF statement

A double murderer has asked the courts to launch a magisterial inquiry into what he claims is systematic terror, fear and torture that he and other prisoners are enduring in prison.

Brian Vella, 41, filed an application to the Criminal Court claiming inhumane treatment at Corradino Correctional Facility, targeting him and other prisoners.

He also drew attention to the possibility that a crime was committed within the facility in September 2018.

Through his lawyer, Jason Grima, Vella explained that he had been in jail for 21 years and that the management of CCF was never as bad as under the present administration.

“A systematic campaign of terror, fear and torture reigns inside the CCF, carried out by the prison guards with the blessing and permission of prison director Alex Dalli and the management,” Vella claimed.

He was ready to confirm on oath that the “torture chair” mentioned in the media a few weeks ago truly exists and had been used several times.

The existence of this chair had originally been denied by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri. He later acknowledged that in an incident that took place before he became minister, a prisoner had once been tied to a chair upon the recommendation of a doctor, who judged him a danger to himself, the staff and other prisoners.

A systematic campaign of terror reigns inside the CCF

Vella claimed that on September 24, 2018, he and his cellmates saw prison guards taking out a dead inmate from the facility and that this remained secret, “showing that it was most probably something illicit and illegal”.

The prison warders involved knew that Vella had seen them and started a “campaign of persecution” against him through the restriction of privileges, removal of his visitation rights and the transfer to another division. He was also stopped from working in carpentry, losing out on €300 a month.

Vella said this disciplinary action was frivolous and he was not even being given the opportunity to make his case, in breach of his fundamental human rights.

This “abuse of power” by the prison warders was causing inmates “psychological torture”.

Vella asked the court to launch a magisterial inquiry, offering to give evidence under oath.

Agency denies claims

In a brief statement issued on Saturday, a spokesperson for the Correctional Services Agency said that the agency would be fighting Vella's claims in court.

"The agency categorically denies these allegations," the spokesman said. 

Conditions within CCF have come under scrutiny in recent months after a spate of prisoner deaths, leading civil society group Repubblika to demand Dalli’s removal.

Vella was sentenced to life in prison over the double murder of his neighbours at their Santa Luċija home in 2000, 79-year-old Gerald Grima and his 63-year-old wife Josephine.

Dominic Bonnici was sentenced to 30 years in jail for his involvement in the double murder. The pair stole €460 worth of items.  

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