Valletta mayor’s car is set on fire one week after speaking out on arson attacks

A series of car fires in Valletta throughout the summer has now culminated with the arson of the mayor’s car right outside his private residence

Valletta mayor and TV presenter Alfred Zammit had his car set on fire outside his house
Valletta mayor and TV presenter Alfred Zammit had his car set on fire outside his house

The car of Valletta mayor Alfred Zammit was set on fire on Friday morning in the dead of the night, after having spoken out over a spate of arson attacks in the capital city.

Zammit, a popular TV presenter on One TV, had his car set ablaze just one week after speaking out on series of car fires in different parts of the cities.

“They wanted to pay me back for speaking out,” a shaken Zammit said on Friday morning, he told newspaper Illum. “They see me work, they see us working, and they wanted to pay me back,” Zammit claimed, although no clear motive has emerged for the arson attack.

Other cars were set ablaze in the arson attack.

Only last week he recounted how Valletta residents were fearful for their safety. “A lot of people are terrorised,” Zammit told the Times after Valletta residents reported being worried about their safety and their property over a series of car fires.

“This is a situation where everyone is wondering who could be next. It could have affected anyone,” he said.

Community group Valletta Residents Revival last week reported three separate incidents within the space of a few days. “Residents are becoming increasingly wary of the spate of arson attacks on private vehicles in various areas around Valletta,” the group said in a statement.

“We have reached a stage where every day, one hopes to find his car still intact, a situation which is highly nerve-racking. As residents, we would like to voice our concern to the respective authorities and we expect feedback from the police with regard to any investigation that could be ongoing,” the group said.

The first occurred on St Sebastian Street, the ring road leading to Fort St Elmo, on 27 July. A number of parked cars were filmed ablaze on 28 July on Fountain Street. On 5 August, a burning car was reported on St Nicholas Street, at the back of St Dominic’s Basilica. Another car caught fire on 9 August on East Street. Zammit recalled some six or seven incidents of cars catching fire in Valletta since the beginning of the year.

Zammit last week said the fires had left people unable to rest easy in their own homes. “It should be understood that these fires can have intensely negative consequences,” referring to fires where the smoke engulfed the common area of a social housing unit, or where the flames could reach an overhead balcony that had gas cylinders on it. “It’s horrifying to think what would have happened in each case if someone had responded a split second too late,” Zammit had said last week.

Parties express solidarity

The Labour and Nationalist parties condemned the arson and expressed solidarity with Zammit. They also called for justice to be done.

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