VALLETTA (Reuters) – A businessman suspected of masterminding the murder of Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has gone on hunger strike, complaining about overcrowding in the prison where he is being held, his family said on Friday.
Yorgen Fenech has been behind bars since late November 2019 when he was arrested and accused of being an accomplice in the 2017 car bomb murder. He denies the claims. A date for his trial has not been set yet.
Three other men, accused of setting off the bomb, have been behind bars awaiting trial since December 2017. The middleman in the plot turned state evidence and has been giving testimony against Fenech.
Fenech went on hunger strike with two other prisoners as another two inmates were added to the prison section where he is being kept.
His family in a statement complained that Fenech, who owns hotels and a casino, has been held in a crowded room sharing a latrine and a tiny basin to be used for personal hygiene, cleaning dishes and clothes.
“Inmates sick with diarrhoea and vomiting are all penned up in the same cramped living space make the situation unbearable. This, not even mentioning the worsening of living conditions due to COVID-19 in the prison facilities,” the family said.
They also complained that a weekly visit to Fenech by his relatives was cancelled on Friday morning.
In a reaction, one of Caruana Galizia’s sons, Matthew, said on Facebook that his own right to see his mother had been taken away when she was murdered.
The prisons department confirmed that three prisoners had started a hunger strike because they did not want any more inmates in their sleeping quarters.
As for visiting rights, the department said prisoner privileges were tied to their behaviour and observance of rules.
(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Giles Elgood)