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MaltaToday 31 August 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 31 AUGUST 2022 2 NEWS A 59-year-old Maltese man died af- ter falling off the roof of his residence in Fgura on Tuesday morning. Police confirmed with MaltaTo- day that the man fell from a height of around three storeys at Triq il- Ġojjin at around 8:45am. He was certified dead on the spot by a medical team. The victim was carrying out maintenance works when the acci- dent occurred. Magistrate Gabriella Vella is lead- ing an inquiry into the case. KARL AZZOPARDI A St Vincent De Paul employee, suspended over the disappear- ance of a dementia patient who was found dead two weeks later, has filed a judicial protest, accus- ing the authorities of ignoring his warnings. Social assistance worker Rob- ert Belli, one of a number of employees suspended after the incident, described the internal inquiry as "very superficial". Karmenu Fino, an 83-year-old dementia sufferer whose con- dition rendered him unable to speak, had walked out of the care home on the night of the 27 June, walking almost eight kilometres to the spot where his body was later discovered. Although a body was found near Għar Dalam in Birżebbuġa in early July, it took over a month for DNA analysts to confirm that the remains belonged to Fino. Fino's disappearance had prompted Active Ageing Min- ister Jo Etienne Abela to order an internal investigation into the case. The inquiry had found significant shortcomings on the part of the staff working the night shift as well as the securi- ty team assigned on the night of the disappearance, but did not mention any systemic problems. Four security officers, two car- ers and a nurse at the St Vincent de Paul Residence have been suspended on half pay in con- nection with the case. In a judicial protest filed against the minister, permanent secretary and the SVPR CEO on Tuesday, Belli explained that he had received a letter on 2 August, informing him that he was being recommended for suspension to the Public Service Commission. The judicial protest was signed by lawyer Roberto Montalto. Belli said he was told that he was being suspended on a pre- cautionary basis, pending disci- plinary proceedings. The letter also stated that his suspension was to be with immediate effect until the Prime Minister made a decision on the Commission's recommendation on his precau- tionary suspension. Belli had submitted a written reply on 3 August, in which he rejected any insinuation that he was to blame and contested his precautionary suspension. His lawyer, Roberto Montalto, argued that the Public Service Disciplinary Regulations stipu- late that precautionary suspen- sion must be required in the public interest, saying that this mean that there had to be an urgent need for the public of- ficer's suspension and that his continued work in the role was incompatible with the pending disciplinary proceedings. Belli complained that the St. Vincent De Paul CEO, Josianne Cutajar, had failed to justify the alleged urgency of the social as- sistance worker's suspension. The fact that the CEO had made accusations in Belli's regard did not absolve her of the require- ment to give convincing reasons as to why these accusations jus- tify a precautionary suspension. This rendered the proceedings null and without effect, argued Belli's lawyer. He said Belli had no respon- sibility for what unfortunately happened and that he had evi- dence to back up this statement. "To the contrary Belli had been telling the management of SVPR that the late Carmelo Fino was not suitable for the ward where he was residing at SVP because he suffered from dementia and needed specific care." But besides this, there was al- so the Constitutional right to the presumption of innocence, which Belli's lawyer said is in- compatible with the way he was being treated. Any suspension and reduction in pay was "not only premature, but also in breach of the plain- tiff's fundamental rights, and this at a stage where a magisteri- al inquiry is still ongoing," Mon- talto said. He added that the inquiry's importance was underlined by the fact that the summary of the conclusions to the internal inquiry ordered by the minis- ter was "very superficial" and strengthened Belli's claim. Bel- li said he had always followed the basic practices mentioned in the inquiry and insisted that it should be the management at the Saint Vincent De Paule Long Term Care Facility to ensure that specific protocols were in place for patients such as Fino. The lawyer said that in the weeks leading up to the filing of the judicial protest, the Pub- lic Service Commission had not replied to correspondence sent by Belli, who was now suffering "great financial prejudice, to- gether with his family, as well as psychological prejudice." Montaldo concluded that Belli had to be given a hearing, as stip- ulated by law, before the Public Service Commission, which should then make its recom- mendations to the Prime Minis- ter on whether or not he should be suspended. Man dies after fall from roof of his Fgura residence Worker suspended over dementia patient's disappearance claims inquiry was a whitewash SVPR resident Karmenu Fino walked out of the elderly home in Luqa and his lifeless body was found days later in Birzebbuga MATTHEW AGIUS A man, arrested on suspi- cion of having set fire to a car in Qormi last week, has been jailed after admitting to arson charges. The 36-year-old man from Valletta, who is not being named so as not to jeopard- ize ongoing police investi- gations, had been arrested in connection with a fire that had extensively dam- aged two cars in Qormi on August 20. Magistrate Gabriella Vel- la had been told how the man had set fire to a Toyo- ta parked on Triq ix-Xitwa, Qormi. No one was injured in the attack, but another vehicle parked next to it had been damaged as a result of the fire. The fire also caused damage to the facade of a nearby building. The arsonist also admitted recidivism charges, as he had been out on bail on un- related charges at the time. In view of the man's guilty plea, the court condemned the man to two years and six months in prison. Inspectors Jeffrey Scicluna, Mario Xiberras and Jeanetta Grixti prosecuted. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri were defence counsel to the accused. Arsonist jailed for two and half years over Qormi attack

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