Police action in Marsa ‘not just about African nationals’, Minister insists

Michael Farrugia rejects accusations that the police force was engaging in acts of racial profiling, insisting that only this morning Maltese nationals were arrested in a Marsa raid

Yannick Pace
19 September 2017, 6:16pm
Home Affairs minister Michael Farrugia has denied accusations that the police force was being heavy-handed in its approach or that the specific action in Marsa represented a blatant exercise in racial profiling.

“No, no, no. We are working in all parts of the island,” he insisted as he pointed towards the seizure of 70kg worth of drugs to prove his point.

“That was heavy-handed,” the minister continued, adding that it had involved a coordinated effort by the Police, the Armed Forces, the Rapid Intervention Unit and the Drugs Squad, among others.

When it was pointed out that raids in Marsa were targeting African nationals and asking them to present their work permits, the minister kept referring to drugs. He also acknowledged that the amounts were smaller but stressed that different types of drugs had been seized which were also intended for trafficking.

Farrugia said that, whether or not police action was heavy-handed, needed to take in to account the type of criminality at hand.

“Nothing was found at Tiger Bar, but a lot of drugs were found in the surrounding area and in various apartments,” he said.

Farrugia went on to say that on many occasions, the police had encountered situations whereby drugs would be destroyed as soon as raid commenced nearby.

“It is important because the moment you enter a place, as soon as surrounding places find out, they throw away the drugs. Today we had an example, were attempts were made to destroy drugs during a raid so you must go in en masse,” he stressed.

Recently, reports also emerged of African nationals being alleged stopped from going into Marsa by law enforcement officials.

“We are looking at law enforcement, irrespective of whether the people involved are Maltese or foreign,” he insisted.

“Today I am informed there was a police operation that gave very positive results after surveillance in certain parts of Marsa and which did not involve any migrants, but which from the information I have, led to the arrest of Maltese people,” he reiterated.

Farrugia highlighted the fact that authorities were determined to continue with the enforcement of the law, which he said would be broadened to other crime “hotspots”, which will be addressed “one after the other”. 

Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...