A former prisoner who went public with claims of mistreatment at Corradino Correctional Facility has shrugged off a union's attempt to discredit him, saying his words had clearly irritated them.
“It’s obvious that the interview pissed them off,” Anthony Borg told Times of Malta. “The truth hurts.”
Borg was reacting to the General Workers Union, which on Monday released an audio clip of Borg swearing and shouting inside prison.
In the clip, Borg can be heard angrily daring another person to “open up” the door so that they can fight.
Recording of 2019 incident
Borg confirmed to Times of Malta that he was the man shouting in the clip. He said that the incident in question happened in 2019 and involved a clash with a high-ranking prison official.
“He took me to court because he said I threatened to burn his house down – but I was acquitted because three people testified that they did not hear me saying that,” he said.
Borg said he realised that he was being recorded. Fellow prisoners later told him that someone was standing outside his cell with a mobile phone.
Shortly after that altercation, guards had gassed his Division 6 cell with pepper spray, Borg said.
'They know I told the truth'
He said the released audio file clearly shows that the interview irked them and they were doing whatever they could to discredit him.
"They know I told the truth and it must have really hit them where it hurts," he said, adding that he wanted another interview "to tell you more things that happened in there and which I forgot to mention".
In its statement, the GWU said that correctional officers “never used violence on prisoners despite often being provoked, insulted and threatened in the course of their duties”.
It said that it thanked officers for their work and would have their back “despite continued attacks on them”.
'Pure character assassination'
Mark Vella, who has been serving in the Prison Fellowship NGO for 28 years, said the GWU leak was “unprofessional” and “unethical” and was unbecoming of people who call themselves correctional officers.
“It is a knee-jerk reaction to your great interview of yesterday. I’m not surprised at all that they went on the attack," Vella said.
"When you’re under attack, it’s only natural that you do all you can to find a way out of it. And the way they found was to discredit the person who exposed what is really happening behind those walls.
"It is pure character assassination which is not in line with their vocation as members of a correctional facility,” he said.
Anthony Borg spoke out about conditions inside CCF in an explosive interview published by The Sunday Times of Malta, saying inmates were locked up in unbearably hot rooms, threatened with severe punishment at every turn and pushed to the brink CCF staff.
“Prison should have its name changed to the ‘vindictive facility’ because they bend over backwards to be vindictive with inmates. There’s no help at all,” he said.
Borg added that he had never been beaten by prison guards, though he had heard of cases in which inmates were beaten. He highlighted one such case of alleged physical mistreatment, which Times of Malta had exposed in October 2019 and is currently the subject of a magisterial inquiry.
Prison authorities responded to Borg's claims by insisting that inmates are treated with respect.
“The relationship between officers and inmates is predominantly positive and to a certain degree therapeutic," the Correction Services Agency at Corradino prisons said.
A three-person board led by psychiatrist Anton Grech is currently looking into CCF’s internal procedures, after a prisoner – Borg’s cellmate – was found hanging inside a cell in an attempt to take his own life.