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Prison warder charged with raping an underage prisoner

Man arrested after teen spilt the beans on abuse

Updated 11.55am with court details

A prison warder was arraigned under arrest on Thursday morning charged with raping an underage prisoner.

The 52-year-old man was charged with the offence he allegedly committed during office hours while he worked as a warder in the youth section of Corradino Correctional Facility, known better as the Young Offenders Unit.

Joseph Zammit from Kirkop was arrested after the girl, aged 15, spilt the beans on the abuse.

He was also charged with sexual activity with a minor, harassing two minors, was intimate or asked for sexual favours, and of serving as a public official who should have prevented the commission of such offences. The suspect was also charged with observing the minor while she was in the shower.

He pleaded not guilty but his request for bail denied. Duty magistrate Audrey Demicoli recommended that he be detained at the Forensic Unit at Mount Carmel Hospital in view of the nature of his work.

Inspector Joseph Busuttil said he was "surprised" that bail had been requested.

"These are most serious offences. Here we are talking of rape of a 15-year-old," he said, adding that there were various witnesses to the crime, including fellow warders who have worked with man for past 20 years.

There is real fear of tampering with evidence, the inspector insisted. 

Defence counsel Franco Debono insisted on the presumption of innocence, the cardinal constitutional principle.

He also pointed out that in this case the alleged victims were detainees, and therefore the fear of tampering was reduced.

Dr Raisa Colombo appeared as parte civile.

In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that as soon as the prison authorities were made aware of the case, the warder was removed from the YOURS (young prisoners') section pending investigations. He was then suspended and information was handed over to the police for further action. 

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