Security guard who shot escaping detainee granted bail as migrants remanded in custody after riots

Security guard Darren Bonello claimed self defence and denied attempted murder following a riot at Safi on Friday

The situation at the Safi detention centre after the riot was brought under control (Photo: Police)
The situation at the Safi detention centre after the riot was brought under control (Photo: Police)

27 migrants have been remanded in custody and a security guard released on bail after shooting an escaping migrant following riots that took place at the Safi detention centre on Friday.

Security guard Darren Bonello, 30 from St. Paul’s Bay was charged with the attempted murder of Abdulrahman Abdullah Hamza and slightly injuring the man, whom he shot with a shotgun. Bonello was further accused of breaching conditions of his arms licence and carrying the weapon in public without permission.

The court was told that Bonello had fired a warning shot and then hit Hamza with his second shot as he tried to scale the fence leading to the airport runway.

Bonello pleaded not guilty to the charge and requested bail.

His lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia argued that Bonello was simply defending himself from an assault by the migrant, who had injured him at that stage. He was also doing his job as he tried to stop the escape.

Despite the prosecution's objections, the court granted Bonello bail against a €3,000 deposit and a €10,000 personal guarantee. He was also ordered to sign a bail book three times a week and to observe a curfew. 


27 migrants charged with escaping detention

In separate proceedings, 27 migrants have been remanded in custody following riots that took place at the Safi detention centre on Friday.

It was a busy day of arraignments in Magistrate Claire Stafrace’s courtroom as the 27 migrants were charged with participating in the riot, which saw a number of migrants escape and seven police officers injured, two of them seriously. The escaped migrants were later recaptured.

First to be arraigned this morning was a group of seven migrants  accused of gathering in a group of over 10 people with the intention of causing damage, of disobeying orders from the authorities, of setting fire to a mattress, and of escaping the detention centre. Two of the accused in this group: Ali Abdul Razak, 23, from Sudan and Abrihema Giymay Mengisteab, 22 from Eritrea, were charged with injuring four policemen, two of them seriously.

The other accused are Abdulrahman Abdulla Hamja, 20-years-old from Somalia, Giddu Mahiok, 20-years-old from Sudan, Abrham Hinstab, 37-years-old from Eritrea, and two minors; a 17-year-old from Cameroon and a 15-year-old from Eritrea.

The second group of five men to be arraigned were accused of inciting a riot but not charged with escaping. All five are from Sudan.

Another three groups of men from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia were also charged.

All 27 pleaded not guilty. Bail was denied, with the court ordering that the migrants be held at Corradino Correctional Facility and not the Safi detention centre to avoid further rioting. The minors amongst them were recommended to be held at the YOURS youth detention facility by the court.

Lawyer Martin Fenech represented the migrants as legal aid counsel.

Inspector Janetta Grixti prosecuted all the arraignments.


Read More: 
Safi detention centre riot: Private security guard shot migrant who tried to escape


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