An inmate who was wrongly released from prison did not inform the prosecuting officer that he had been unexpectedly let out of jail.

This emerged from a decree which Magistrate Doreen Clarke sent to the Home Affairs Ministry and the director of the Corradino Correctional Facility as soon as the incident came to light in a court on Tuesday.

Hours later, the ministry announced it had launched an inquiry into the matter, after the details of the bizarre episode were revealed by shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi.

The man was on remand, facing charges of threatening his wife and breaching a protection order, and had been denied bail multiple times.

In a statement, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri insisted that action was taken as soon as he learned about the case. Headed by former chief justice Joseph Azzopardi, the board of inquiry has been given 20 days to present its findings. 

In her decree, the magistrate pointed out that were it not for the fact that the defendant was not accompanied by prison officers during the sitting, his release would have gone unnoticed. It was at this stage that the court was alerted about the fact that the accused had been let out of prison on July 19, though nobody was able to give an explanation for how this had happened. The court ordered the immediate arrest of the accused while noting that as recently as July 14 his request for bail had been denied.

The man’s lawyers, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca, on Tuesday told Times of Malta that as soon as they had found out about what happened, they had immediately informed the police inspector in charge.

Mercieca added that he had raised the issue with the magistrate as soon as it was possible to do so.

Ironically, on August 6, when the defendant was not in prison, he had filed yet another request for bail. The man’s lawyers told Times of Malta that when the request was filed they were not aware their client had been released.

Following submissions made on Tuesday’s sitting by the defence and the attorney general, the court once again turned down the bail request on the grounds that the accused had not alerted the prosecuting officer of his unexpected release.

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