In the past days, we have had the media carrying a story stating that Mr. Anthony C. Mifsud, the Ombudsman who of his own accord has begun investigating the situation within Kordin prison. He did so after the death of Arun Jose in prison and Mr. Alex Dalli auto suspended himself as Director of Corrective Facilities at Kordin.
In this context, I asked the Ombudsman a number of questions. The first was: how often have you taken the initiative to investigate cases of maladministration or abuse?
Instead of replying to my question, he gave a generic answer which is the following:
Article 13(2) of the Act re the Ombudsman gives the Ombudsman the power to begin investigating on his own initiative. The power applies also to the Commissioners of Administrative Investigations within the Office of the Ombudsman. Since the setting-up of the Office of Ombudsman in 1995, a substantial number of investigations began on the initiative of the Ombudsman or the Commissioners so much so that from the year 2000 to date over 80 have been held.
It is to be noted that I did not ask whether what he was doing is allowed by law or not. Undoubtedly, it is allowed according to law. But what I asked was how many times had he personally triggered an investigation. To this, he did not reply instead he told me that from the year 2000 over 80 investigations had been opened on the initiative of the Ombudsman. This means that on average, there were four investigations per year initiated by the Ombudsman himself. In this context, I wished to know exactly how these investigations were allocated. This is because it has to be said that Mr. Mifsud has not been Ombudsman since the year 2000. He was appointed Ombudsman in 2016.
For this reason, I asked him for a breakdown as to how the cases being investigated by the Ombudsman of his own accord are distributed throughout the year. I asked him to let me know how many there were before 2013 i.e. how many cases did the Ombudsman initiate of his own accord between 2013 and 2017 and how many after the year 2017.
Since Mr. Mifsud was appointed in 2016, this signifies that he certainly should have no problem gathering the statistics concerning the number of cases he opened after 2017. To date, I have received no reply.
One can therefore conclude how many investigations were triggered by Mr. Mifsud in person and whether this was the first one or not from his replies.
My questions did not stop here. I also asked whether it is “true that the psychiatrist (and here I gave the surname) who was dismissed from prison service asked him to investigate Dalli? I further asked him whether it is true that there is a report about this psychiatrist (I gave him the name) written by a prison inmate and whether he is aware of this report?
To these questions, the Ombudsman replied and I quote “The investigations carried out by the Ombudsman and the Commissioner are confidential and no information can be forthcoming regarding complaints they are investigating. As for your questions (b), (c) and (d) I refer you to Art 21 of the Ombudsman’s Act (Chapter 385)”.
I have no doubt that the Ombudsman’s investigations are confidential nor do I wish this confidentiality to be broken. However, I am here merely asking whether the initiative was his as declared or it was started as a consequence of the reports in the media or through other means.
From my end, I do not believe that the Office of the Ombudsman would break any confidentiality had he replied precisely how many investigations had been initiated by the current Ombudsman. All I can say is that I was given a generic reply that only leads to more questions rather than answers.
I just hope that if the Ombudsman is going to start meeting up with the prisoners in this investigation, he will also summon Yorgen Fenech to testify in order to listen to his version. It should not be forgotten that Yorgen Fenech was dragged indirectly into this story because, according to Karl Azzopardi, the prisoners in the section where Fenech is detained in prison, have all refused to sign the petition for Col. Dalli to be reinstated.
This is being mentioned here because at every public investigation held to date Yorgen Fenech has never been called to testify. The truth is that nobody wants Yorgen Fenech to testify. Not even the Three Judges called him to testify despite the fact that they mentioned him in their report. George Hyzler too, despite investigating him, did not call him nor for that matter did the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts that supposedly was investigating Yorgen Fenech’s corruption accusation. The Deputy General Advocate, Philip Galea Farrugia had not even the guts to cite the witnesses that he called to testify against Yorgen Fenech in the compilation of evidence, so as to allow the defence to cross-examine them!
If truth be told, to date no one in authority has dared to call him to testify or to give his own version on the issues. Is it not obvious why? Thus I declare and expect that if the Ombudsman sends for or asks the inmates to talk about the prison, Yorgen Fenech has to be one of the persons he calls to hear his version.