Updated | Police constables denied bail after allegedly abducting and assaulting foreign nationals

Police says that it would not tolerate such behaviour by its members

Rica Mifsud (right) and Jurgen Falzon (left)
Rica Mifsud (right) and Jurgen Falzon (left)

Updated on Sunday 9 October at 12:56pm

Two police constables were charged in court on Sunday with abducting and grievously injuring foreign nationals in Qormi.

Rica Mifsud Grech (22, Floriana) and Jurgen Falzon (24, Santa Venera) pleaded not guilty on Sunday as they appeared in court at noon. Apart from abduction and grievous bodily harm, they were also charged with crimes against human dignity.

A third constable will be charged at a later time after complaining of chest pains.

Police inspector Joe Mercieca explained to the court that some police officers filed a complaint on Friday to the internal police body on professional standards about their three colleagues.

The constables, who were stationed in Ħamrun, are alleged to have abducted foreign nationals, took them to Qormi, assaulted them, and left them there.

This happened several times. According to police, the incidents happened between September 2 and 3, while another incident happened later in the same month.

Two victims were identified, one of which has already spoken to investigators.

The accused requested bail, insisting that they are still presumed innocent at this stage.

But the prosecution objected to this request due to concerns on tamering of evidence, especially since one of the victims still had to be tracked down.

Defence lawyer Edmond Cuschieri, who appeared for Falzon, insisted that the two officials were young officers working in a tough district, with no reports having been filed by the alleged victims.

Lawyer Veronique Dalli, who appeared for Mifsud Grech, questioned the motivation of the reports filed by the other officers. She added that the officers had been responding to a case in a difficult neighbourhood.

But the prosecution objected to this, saying that the officers took a person to a place in the middle of nowhere, assaulted them, and left them there.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud denied their request for bail at this stage, noting the gravity of the charges. He said that no one should be assaulted, not assault someone, in their line of duty.

Earlier on Sunday, the police called a press conference at 10:30am on the case.

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa said that two of the police constables will charged in court on Sunday with abduction, inhumane treatment, grievous bodily harm, and other charges.

The third person was admitted to hospital after arrest after complaining of medical issues. This person will be charged at a later time.

Gafa explained that the police had received a report that the three constables abused foreign nationals at the Ħamrun police station. The report was filed by other police officers.

 “When these allegations came to my knowledge on Friday 7 October, we immediately started a criminal investigation,” he said. 

The police commissioner insisted that this behaviour will not be tolerated in the corps. "That which allegedly happened should not reflect the work of the police corps, especially when it comes to good governance."

Gafa added that the constables did not seem to be responding to any reports against the victims, and that the incident did not appear to be an isolated one.

“We know of two incidents that happened on different days. Investigations are ongoing. Regarding the motive that led to this, I ask that you wait for the court process to play out.” 

In a statement on Saturday, police said that an investigation into the case is ongoing and that Magistrate Elaine Mercieca is leading an inquiry into the case.

All three constables are suspected of having seriously failed to uphold their duties, including through the use of unnecessary violence against certain individuals.

Times of Malta reported that the officers were reported by their own colleagues for allegedly assaulting migrants. It said that two men and a woman who worked the same shift at the Ħamrun police station are subjects of a criminal investigation into a racially-motivated crime.

“Whilst the case is being investigated, the police corps emphasises that it would not tolerate such behaviour from its members, the majority of whom carry out their duty seriously and loyally towards the society they are bound to serve and towards the corps,” the statement said.