Three Maltese police officers have been accused of abduction and violence against migrants during operations to fight irregular immigration at the beginning of September. A judge refused to release the three on bail and indicted them.
Three police officers in Hamrum, a multiethnic area near Malta's capital Valletta, have been accused of abduction and violence against migrants. Two of the officers, a 24-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man, appeared in court on Sunday (October 9) for a fast-track trial in which they are also accused of crimes against human dignity.
The judge denied them bail and ordered their indictment. A third officer was not in court after he was hospitalized for tests when he complained of chest pain while he was being arrested.
Officers reported by colleagues
The three officers were reported by a few colleagues on Friday (October 7) to a police oversight body.
According to Maltese media reports, police inspector Joe Mercieca took the case to court, explaining that the above mentioned two officers on September 2 and 3 -- when the interior ministry organized several raids against irregular migrants, arresting more than 160 people -- allegedly took people of color chosen randomly to the nearby location of Qormi where they hit them and then abandoned them to their fate.
Only one of the officers' alleged victims has been identified so far, according to the reports.
'We will never tolerate such incidents', police
The police officers' defense attorneys tried to minimize the case, claiming the two defendants, who appeared in court Sunday, "perhaps had a good reason for their behavior", the reports said.
Police chief Angelo Gafà instead stressed that the case was serious and that the three officers had been previously accused of violence. "We will never tolerate such incidents nor the illegitimate use of force", a spokesperson said.
Gafà's spokesperson went on to say that the introduction of a system to report colleagues anonymously "helped us discover the case. The great majority of members of the police carry out their duties with honor."
In 2019, an immigrant with a regular residence permit and a job, Ivorian citizen Lassana Cissé, was shot dead during a racist raid carried out by two soldiers.