Police chief to investigate excessive force used in Hungarian’s arrest

Commissioner of Police Michael Cassar will carry out internal investigation into excessive force used by police in wrongful arrest

Daboma Jack being overpowered by police officers. Photo courtesy: TVM.com.mt
Daboma Jack being overpowered by police officers. Photo courtesy: TVM.com.mt

The Commissioner of Police has launched an internal investigation on order of home affairs minister Carmelo Abela, into the excessive use of force employed by the police at the Valletta bus terminus, in their arrest of a Hungarian national caught up in a fracas over bus ticket delays.

The incident was caught on film by TVM, showing first the Hungarian chemical engineer telling the TV station that people were waiting for up to three hours to be served, before it cut into an altercation with police.

Daboma Jack, on a study-holiday in Malta with his wife, a Hungarian TV journalist, was seen trying to organise a queue of angry commuters as they attempted to top up the new ‘tallinja’ bus card.

But it all went sour when a Maltese woman turned on Jack and slapped him in the face, shouting at the man to ‘go back to [his] country’. Witnesses said that he was spat at by the woman.

At this point, as the police arrived, witnesses accused the man of starting the commotion. While Jack complained of the racist assault on him, three police officers pounced on the man, forced him to the ground, and cuffed him.

The incredulous Jack was seen smiling as he was being arrested.

It was only later, when a witness who intervened to tell the police what had happened, that the police apologise to Jack, who accepted the apology.

Following the incident, the Nationalist Party also issued a statement to condemn the events saying that they could never accept that anyone would use race as a pretext for violence or discrimination. “The PN urges the police commissioner to conclude the investigation and weed out the truth about who is guilty of this racial abuse and take the necessary procedures against this person.”

Alternattiva Demokratika chairperson Arnold Cassola said the arrest of the innocent man who was just helping out in the chaos caused by the disorganised transport service, "is a cause of serious concern for the majority of Maltese peace-loving and democratic people. There is no place for police officers who arrest people on the basis of their skin colour. We look forward to justice being meted out as soon as possible."

Human rights NGO Aditus has demanded a police investigation into the excessive use of force employed by the police at the Valletta bus terminus.

“From the facts available to us, it looks like a number of officer of the Malta Police Force engaged in acts that amount to excessive use of force against one unarmed and cooperating individual. Furthermore, it looks like these activities were aggravated by racist intent. We trust that this matter will be given its due attention, in view of its very serious implications, and look forward to receiving your progress updates,” Aditus said in their complaint to the Commissioner of Police.

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