The Malta Independent 18 January 2020, Saturday

22 migrants charged with causing disturbance at Safi compound

Wednesday, 8 January 2020, 11:27 Last update: about 10 days ago

Magistrate Victor Axiaq today presided over the arraignment of a group of men accused of participating in a riot at Safi on Monday.

The 22 North African men, secured in pairs with cable ties, crammed into the courtroom. The men from Algeria, Chad, Ghana, Sudan, Guinea and Libya were arrested on Monday evening after the riot broke out at Safi Barracks in Kirkop.

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Police from the Rapid Intervention Unit and Zurrieq police station were notified of the disturbance at around 7:30pm and immediately went to the scene. According to a Police statement said that there they found a number of masked men smashing walls, dislodging bricks and throwing pieces of them at the officials. They also ransacked a dormitory and a room used by Detention Service officials.

24 men were arrested, of whom 22 were charged.

The men were charged with insulting and threatening behaviour, violently resisting arrest and slightly injuring five detention officers. They were also accused of taking part in a rioting mob and failing to disperse when ordered to, conspiracy to commit a crime, voluntary damage, disturbing the peace, disobeying lawful orders, threatening public officers and throwing stones at private property.

The men were assisted by two interpreters, one for Arabic speakers and one for French. Two of the men today claimed that they did not speak either language, but understood sufficient Arabic to enter a plea.

Lawyer Yanika Bugeja, appearing as legal aid counsel to the men, entered pleas of not guilty

Bail was not requested.

Inspector Melvin Camilleri prosecuted.

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