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Colonel Etienne Scicluna, who heads the Armed Forces of Malta’s (AFM) maritime squadron, was appointed as the Correctional Services Agency’s (CSA) newest chief of operations, this website can confirm.

Scicluna was previously mentioned in a news article as one of four potential candidates who jostled for the top job at the AFM after former brigadier Jeffrey Curmi’s departure in 2022. Curmi had left his post to take up a role at the helm of Transport Malta only to be sacked a year later and appointed as Malta’s ambassador to the Netherlands shortly after. Following a week of politically-charged jockeying, Scicluna had not managed to clinch the role of brigadier, though he did walk away with a consolation prize – a promotion from lieutenant colonel to colonel.

Further investigations had revealed that prime minister Robert Abela was not happy about Scicluna’s familial link with the family of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat (his wife is the cousin of Muscat’s wife, Michelle) and foreign affairs minister Ian Borg (Scicluna is his cousin). This led to the government’s top brass opting to yet again issue a flurry of promotions to ensure its preferred candidates for the top posts within the AFM were eligible for them.

Scicluna, who has almost completed his 25 years of service within the AFM, will now be taking up the newly created role as CSA’s chief of operations, effectively becoming the prison’s second-in-command without any prior experience within its walls. According to Scicluna’s LinkedIn profile, his responsibilities within the AFM – besides being in charge of its maritime squadron – include security services management, military affairs, and human resources.

Currently, CSA is headed by CEO Christopher Siegersma, who confirmed that the colonel’s appointment “has been finalised”.

“A call for COO was issued publicly, and it is in the final process. I plan to continue my job as a CEO together with my team, and to continue working hard on bringing change at CSA, that includes various rehabilitative efforts,” Siegersma said in a written response to this website’s questions.

“After a public call, the process of appointing a COO has been finalised, and Colonel Etienne Scicluna has been selected to fill this post. The introduction of this position is designed to strategically fill the existing gaps in our HR plan, ensuring our organisation’s needs are comprehensively met,” he added.

Siegersma did not answer specific questions about why Scicluna himself was appointed to this role, stating only that Scicluna’s appointment was a result of the public process. Sources who tipped off this website about Scicluna’s appointment indicated that the post of COO was created as a way to eventually ease Scicluna into the role of CEO. Siegersma’s response indicates that the current CEO plans to remain in charge of the prison’s management.

Prior the publication of this article, further questions have been sent to Siegersma’ office to determine what the contractual conditions of Scicluna’s employment will be.

While it does remain to be seen how Scicluna will perform in his new role, his transition from the AFM to the prisons agency will inevitably draw comparisons with the horrors which occurred within the prison’s walls under the leadership of former AFM lieutenant colonel Alex Dalli.

During Dalli’s time as director-general of the prison, 13 suicides had occurred on his watch, with multiple news reports highlighting how Dalli, as fellow journalist Manuel Delia aptly put it, ‘ran the prison like a gulag‘. To this day, Dalli escapes all accountability for his well-documented crimes and retains a lucrative position as the government’s ‘special envoy’ in Libya.

Following Dalli’s ‘self-suspension’ from his role as director-general, Robert Brincau, formerly the head of detention services and Red Cross Malta, was appointed in his stead. Brincau’s tenure did not last very long: in January of last year, following widespread public outcry over reports of an altercation in which Brincau injured an ambulance driver and brandished an unlicensed firearm on him, the court found Brincau guilty of the accusations levied against him, leading to his resignation from the post.

Home affairs minister Byron Camilleri has repeatedly refused to shoulder responsibility for the glaring failures which are present within the prison system, in spite of calls for his resignation over the years.

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