UPDATED: 78 immigrants arraigned under various accusations connected with unrest at the Ħal Far Open Centre
A total of 78 immigrants were arraigned in Court under various accusations related to the unrest at the Ħal Far Open Centre between Sunday and Monday. Of these, 16 entered a plea of guilty and were jailed for six weeks, while the others entered a plea of not guilty and have been detained under arrest until Court proceedings against them continue.
Appearing before Magistrate Doreen Clarke in separate sessions that spread over six hours with some of them appearing in Court bare-footed, 67 of them hailing from Sudan, Chad, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia and Gambia faced accusations of having disobeyed the orders of the authorities and of breaching the public peace through shouting and fighting.
Sixteen admitted to the accusations and were jailed while 51 others facing the same accusations entered a plea of not guilty with Magistrate Doreen Clarke decreeing that as they have no fixed address and no ties to Malta she was turning down their requests for bail while also highlighting the attention of the Director for Prisons that some of them are minors. The Prosecution against the 67 immigrants was led by Police Inspectors Roderick Attard, Eman Hayman and Oriana Spiteri.
Eight of the arraigned faced more serious accusations. These were accused of having committed offences against three Police persons with one of them having suffered light injuries, of having set fire to buildings and vehicles, of causing damages to the property of others, of having thrown stones and other hard objects and of having taken part in an uprising. These were from Chad, Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. One of them was wearing a Malta t-shirt. The eight entered a plea of not guilty. Police Inspector Melvyn Camilleri said these immigrants had not been in Malta for a long time. Magistrate Doreen Clarke denied their request for bail because of the grievous nature of the incidents and because of concerns they may flee the country.
Earlier, three immigrants were arraigned one of who was bare-footed and another appeared to have some facial wounds, accused among other things of having committed offences against two Police persons and a support worker, of having been in a drunken state and of having breached the public peace. Two of these were minors and the three were from Chad, Sudan and Nigeria. They entered a plea of not guilty with Magistrate Clarke denying their request for bail because they only arrived in Malta a few weeks ago and there is a possibility they may try to flee.
The 78 immigrants received Legal Aid from lawyer Dr Simon Micallef Stafrace.
Watch: A number of migrants arrested at Ħal Far Open Centre