Paceville brawler alleges police brutality

20-year-old charged with assault, resisting arrest and injuring another man appears in court with a heavily bandaged right hand he alleges is result of police beating

A young man, charged this afternoon with assaulting police officers, has told a court that he had received a beating at the hands of a police officer at the St Julian’s police station when he went to file a report after a brawl in Paceville.

20-year-old Lee Michael Robertson from Xemxija is pleading not guilty to charges of assault, resisting arrest and injuring another man when he was involved in fisticuffs outside a bar, close to the police station in St Julian’s. Robertson appeared in court this afternoon with a heavily bandaged right hand - a result of the fight, and bruises on his forehead, allegedly from the police beating.

Defence lawyer Rachel Tua, told the court that her client had been illegally arrested. Robertson had been attacked whilst at the bar, and had injured his hand. He rushed to the police station, she said, but once he arrived he had been told to clear out of the station and wipe the blood off his hand before going back in.

In the ensuing verbal exchange the officer, Tua said, made offensive remarks about the accused’s father. Robertson was then allegedly thrown to the ground by the officer, who slammed the man’s head on the ground, the lawyer said, also claiming that the accused had his injured arm cruelly twisted while he was being handcuffed. She denied the prosecution’s assertion that Robertson had assaulted police, adding that his friends had witnessed the incident and would be summoned to testify.

Tua told magistrate Vella that the police refused to allow Robertson to speak to her during his arrest, instead holding him overnight and taking a statement the next morning - with the police officer who allegedly delivered the beating present in the interrogation room.

The police had not even told him why he was being arrested, she said.

“My client was then charged with injuring the person who, in fact, had injured him. Police are there to help citizens, not terrify them,” the lawyer said. “The manner in which he was arrested was degrading and inhumane. There was no need to hit his face  - you could have caused him permanent injury.”

Prosecuting Inspector Matthew Spagnol submitted that Robertson had been arrested for refusing to give his particulars, injuring an officer, causing a commotion and fighting at the bar. The police had a duty to protect the public and had done their job, he said.

The court ruled that the arrest was not illegal and granted Robertson bail against a personal deposit of €1,200 and a personal guarantee of €8,000, also ordering him to sign a bail book once a week and observe a curfew.