The Malta Independent 31 July 2016, Sunday

PN: Home Affairs Minister has a lot to answer for on police custody suicides; government replies

Saturday, 16 January 2016, 12:04 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Nationalist Party said today that Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela had a lot to answer for after it was confirmed that a Syrian man tried to commit suicide while under police custody.

In a statement PN Deputy Leader Beppe Fenech Adami said that there were three suicides and one attempted suicide in the space of four months.

Mr Abela should say when he was first informed about the attempted suicide case that took place on 5 January and why the case had been kept hidden. Why had he referred to recent case in Parliament this week but failed from mentioning the latest suicide attempt? Why was an internal investigation only launched after the latest case emerged in the media and why was the minister still refusing to hold an independent inquiry?

The PN said that the government had tried to keep the latest case under wraps for a reason. “It is clear that the Minister has lost all control of the police force. It is also evident that the minister’s incompetence has brought about a crisis in the force, so much so that four people tried to commit suicide while under custody, three of them successfully.”

Dr Fenech Adami said someone had to shoulder the political responsibility for what was happening. “This is not what Joseph Muscat promised,” he said. 

In a statement, the government said that its appeal for human cases not to be used as a political football has been ignored by the opposition. This shows that the PN has lost all sense of balance and ethics.

Before speaking up, the PN should decide whether it wants the minister to interfere in police work. Dr Fenech Adami has ignored the fact that in the last five years there were 16 cases of attempted suicide or self-harm in the police lock-up, 10 of which happened under a Nationalist administration.

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