Gozo Ministry admits to illegal works that caused worker’s death

The Gozo Ministry has admitted it carried out illegal works at a Dwejra public convenience that led to the death of Charlie Attard, a 52-year-old government employee who was buried alive when the public convenience collapsed on him in March 2021.

The Shift can report that it was only last June, more than a year after the tragic loss of the family man from Xewkija, that Gozo Ministry Permanent Secretary John Borg applied for the necessary planning permit for the works to be carried out at the Dwejra public convenience. It was granted by the Planning Authority a month later.

Despite the admission that Attard had been sent to carry out these works illegally, leading to his death, the same permanent secretary is defending three of his subordinates who have been charged with responsibility for the man’s death.

The ministry’s Director General Vicky Xuereb, Director Joseph Cutajar and manager Joseph Xuereb are accused of involuntary homicide for ordering the deceased worker to carry out the illegal works.

But instead of having them suspended, given the court charges, Borg wrote to the Public Service Commission describing them as “exemplary”, saying the PSC had acted as required and left them in place.

While the works that led to Attard’s death were carried out in March 2021 on the instructions of the Gozo Ministry, the permanent secretary had only sought a development permit for the works required at Dweja on 3 June through Development Notification Order 00097/22.

No objections were filed by the ERA or the other parties, and the Planning Authority, a month later, gave architect Shawn Micallef appearing on behalf of the ministry, the green light.

It is unclear whether the prosecution, which is accusing Xuereb, Cutajar and Xuereb of involuntary homicide, will be using the permit as proof that the three had acted negligently and ordered illegal works to be carried out (prior to the permit being issued) by the worker who lost his life.

The trio – who have not been suspended from work despite the provisions of the Public Service Management Code (PSMC) – have retained the full job functions, including their whole pay, instead of being suspended on half pay until the judicial process they are facing comes to an end.

The Shift has already reported how Permanent Secretary John Borg had acted entirely differently in other cases in which some of his subordinates were either facing court charges or even put under investigation.

In the case of Antony Debono, the husband of former Gozo Minster Giovanna Debono, Borg acted immediately and suspended him as soon as the police charged him with acts of corruption. Debono won the case when the court threw out the accusations against him.

Borg had also suspended and put on half pay two other employees – a director, Mark Formosa, and an architect, Angelo Portelli – during police investigations prompted by former minister Justyne Caruana. The two were never accused and were reinstated after more than a year.


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25 days ago

So it is official. Labour Ministers protect criminals.

24 days ago
Reply to  makjavel

Gozo is run by primary school children paying millions to workers who does not even go to work. Shame. Corruption all over.

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