Two Birkirkara FC supporters charged over football stadium violence

Two football supporters are released on bail after being charged over violent incidents during the Premier League match between Birkirkara FC and Santa Lucia

A still of the incident captured by TVM's cameras happened during the match between Birkirkara FC and Santa Lucia (Photo: TVM)
A still of the incident captured by TVM's cameras happened during the match between Birkirkara FC and Santa Lucia (Photo: TVM)

Two Birkirkara FC supporters have been released on bail after they were charged over violent incidents which occurred on Sunday at the Tony Bezzina Stadium in Paola.

The violence broke out after Birkirkara lost 2-0 against Santa Lucia in a Premier League match.

Kerstin Falzon, 21, and Jake Attard, 19, both from Birkirkara were arraigned before Magistrate Monica Vella on Tuesday, accused of attacking a police constable and using offensive language as they were going into the stadium.

Falzon alone was also accused of damaging a camera being operated by the police and committing an offence whilst on bail.

Police Inspector Paul Camilleri, prosecuting, told the court that a number of supporters had been involved in a disturbance in the stadium’s VIP area. The police had gone in and extracted the person instigating the unrest, a member of the Birkirkara FC committee who was not named in court.

Several supporters had vociferously objected to the police action, he said.

At one point, an officer had gone to move supporters, who had been jeering at rival supporters, back from the Perspex. He explained that nobody is allowed to leave their seat whilst at the football stadium.

“At a point a group of ‘ultras’ approached and expected the police not to remove those supporters. In a few seconds the officer was surrounded by six men and requested backup.” The RIU arrived on the scene soon after, he said. The footage was clear that the two accused men were involved.

Lawyer Richard Sladden, appearing for Attard together with lawyer Franco Debono, requested bail. The lawyers argued that Jake Attard was not seen assaulting the police, had not insulted anyone and had not held anyone against their will in the footage.

Sladden told the magistrate that his client had gone up to the Perspex to rescue his 17-year-old brother.

Debono added that the accused had a clean criminal record. He argued that it was natural for the accused to want to help his younger brother. It was a momentary thing, he said, pointing out that the man had no criminal record.

The inspector objected to bail, arguing that the incident should not have happened in the first place, as the accused should not have left his seat. “Jake was the first to go up to the VIP gate and his brother joined him in insulting the rival supporters.”

The prosecutor confirmed that there was no fear of the accused tampering with evidence or absconding.

Debono argued that it was “a football ground after all.” “No violence is ever acceptable but everyone knows the atmosphere, not only in Malta but everywhere.”

Lawyer Noel Bianco, for Kersten Falzon, argued that his client had gone to help his 17-year old friend and had cooperated with the police.

Falzon, who was already on bail for another offence, had broken his leg at the stadium after getting it stuck between two seats.

Inspector Camilleri said that Falzon had punched a police constable in the abdomen, whilst the latter was trying to calm the situation down.

The two youths were released on bail against a deposit of €1,000 and a €3,000 personal guarantee, also being ordered to sign a bail book once a week. A protection order was issued in favour of the police constable who was assaulted.