Police inspector decries 'law of the jungle' after beggar punched man who refused him money

A 32-year-old man was found guilty and sentenced to two months imprisonment for punching a man in the face after he refused to buy him coffee

An police inspector has lashed out at the “law of the jungle” in Malta, as he arraigned a beggar who punched a man in the face for not buying him a coffee.

Mustaf Biihi Abdi, 32, from Somalia was arraigned before Magistrate Josette Demicoli this morning, accused of slightly injuring a man, begging for alms, breaching the peace, living an idle and vagrant life and relapsing.

Inspector Trevor Micallef explained to the court that the accused had approached the victim in Triq San Gorg, St Julians and demanded money for a coffee. “You are African like me. Buy me a coffee,” the accused is alleged to have said. His charm offensive rebuffed, Abdi then struck the man in the face.

“We cannot continue with this law of the jungle. These things must stop,” said the inspector, describing the incident as “integration at its best.” 

The accused pleaded guilty, persisting even after it was explained to him that the charges could lead to his imprisonment.

Legal aid defence lawyer Leontine Calleja suggested that the man should be warned and given a suspended sentence, but not jailed. “One person should not carry the guilt of all others,” she said.

But the police inspector objected strongly. "I don’t know the situation which this country has reached. A man went for a coffee and got punched in the face by someone who decided that he had to give him money," he said, resignedly.

The court, in view of the man’s guilty plea, found him guilty and sentenced him to two months imprisonment. The magistrate also imposed a restraining order in favour of the victim against a penalty of €1,000.

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