A video about a policeman humiliating Tunisian migrants in Italy has sparked controversy after going viral. It shows a police officer slapping a migrant and forcing other refugees to slap each other as "punishment" for having tried to escape from a migrant reception center. The incident led to the police officer being placed under investigation for abuse of correction methods.
A video that has gone viral in Italy shows a migrant being slapped by a police officer and other refugees forced to slap each other as "punishment" decided on by the officer for the migrants' attempt to flee a migrant reception center in the contrada of Ciavolotta in Agrigento.
The migrants were under quarantine in the center as part of COVID-19 containment measures.
The mobile phone video of the incident, possibly filmed by one of the residents at the reception center, shows the police officer telling the migrant, "You're a guest and you have to respect the law; now get on your knees and slap each other."
Officer suspended from duty
The case already came to the attention of authorities on June 18, but it wasn't until this weekend that the video of the incident went viral and sparked controversy.
After the Agrigento police department reported the incident to the attorney general, the police officer was placed under investigation for abuse of correction methods. The officer was suspended from duty and will no longer work at the reception center where the incident took place.
The Agrigento preliminary hearing judge, Alessandra Vella, accepted the request by prosecuting attorney Cecilia Baravelli and ordered testimony from the five migrants, all of whom are Tunisian.
Two of the migrants were allegedly forced to slap each other.
Tunisian consul gets information
After learning about the investigation of the police officer, the Tunisian consul in Palermo, and social worker Jaballah El BKhairi on Saturday went to the Agrigento police department to get information about the case. They were accompanied by attorney Leonardo Marino.
"The consul, after the big media hype around this case, wanted to take action on an institutional level to acquire information," Marino said. "We had a very cordial first meeting with the police commissioner's chief of staff; we will try to enter the proceedings."