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21 April 2014

Man claims police beat him to within an inch of his life

 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013, 17:27

A man charged with assaulting the constables claimed in court Wednesday that on the feast of St Paul in 2006 he was given a beating by the police which lasted about 15 minutes.

Joseph Azzopardi, 43, of Sta Lucija, was charged before Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia, and testified that he was at a restaurant with his family when diners at one of the tables started throwing bottles.

He told the diners to stop because there were children around. He slammed his table and in doing so a gold bracelet he had came loose, but he was not aware of that.

They left calmly, his wife taking the wheel, but near the ST Microelectronics factory he told her to drive back because he realised he was missing his bracelet, which he had just bought.

Near Hagar Qim, he came across the police, one of whom told him that he had been fighting, and blocked their way with the police car, the two vehicles coming to touch front to front. Two policemen came out who started cursing. One of them took out his pistol, they dragged him to the ground and handcuffed him, he said. A sergeant stood a short distance away, doing nothing. More policemen came.

Azzopardi said one of the policemen, who had a scar in his face, was the only one who stood up for him. His children were young, the daughter three, she is today stammering, the boy was a year older. Even today, seven and a half years later, the children were frightened when they saw the police, he said.

The police started kicking him and cursing at his wife. He started bleeding and had he not been healthy, they would have killed him, he said. From there they took him to the police depot, but officers refused his entry, and he was taken to Floriana health centre, and then to Mater Dei Hospital, he said.

According to the medical certificate he saw a haze through his left eye, and he was certified suffering from serious injuries. One of the police eventually told him to leave, as he had taken pity on him. Then it was as if nothing had happened. Azzopardi said the police kept putting things off, as if they wanted the case to be ignored. They kept telling him the case against the police would be starting, but that never happened. Then the police ended charging him.

Sharon Azzopardi, the wife of the accused, backed up his testimony word for word. She said they were having a meal at a restaurant. An argument broke out among some of the patrons and her husband told them to stop. He threw a punch at the table, and he lost his bracelet.

She took the wheel, they left, and turned back to find the bracelet. The police stopped the car and the policeman who was in the passenger seat started beating her husband around the head, with his revolver. He was joined by the policeman who had been driving, and they beat her husband mercilessly, she said.

Sharon Azzopardi said she became extremely agitated, her husband was being kicked and punched and she was sworn at. They told her to follow them in her car to the depot but they then did not allow her in. She then saw them come out with her husband, and they took him to Floriana, then to the hospital.

Inspector Carlos Cordina is prosecuting, Dr Edward Gatt is defence counsel.

 

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