Two acquitted of assaulting police after court rules excessive force used

The court ruled that the police used excessive force as medical evidence indicated that their injuries were compatible with having been manhandled 

Two men have been acquitted of assaulting police officers and resisting arrest following a fight at St Julian’s.

Liam Mallia, 23, and Darren Agius, 26, were involved in a brawl consisting of a number of persons, including security officials.The fight had broken out in the street outside a Paceville club on August 17, 2013.

 A number of police officers had intervened to break up the fight with one of the officers later claiming to have been manhandled and punched by Agius, who later had to be subdued with pepper spray.

Mallia had been grabbed by the hand by a man, later identified as a police officer, and led to a police van parked nearby as he left the club to find his friends. 

The two young men were arrested and charged with having attacked two constables, violently resisting arrest, insulting and threatening the officers, refusing to obey legitimate police orders and breaching the public peace.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale, who was assigned the case after the retirement of magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona, noted that he was faced with two conflicting versions.

Both men had declared in their police statement, which was taken a few hours after the incident, and later when testifying in court, that they did not punch the officers.

To the contrary, Mallia claimed that he had been tightly handcuffed and kicked in the stomach inside the police van, while Agius claimed to have been kicked in the ribs and sprayed with pepper spray by the officers after bouncers denied him re-entry into the club.

 Magistrate Depasquale held that the description of events given by the accused was the more credible one, and had been corroborated by medical evidence which indicated that their injuries were compatible with having been manhandled. 

Additionally, CCTV footage from the scene of the fight was never analysed as the court-appointed expert had not been briefed to examine it.  

The magistrate said the police’s account would have been more credible had the officers not used such excessive force when intervening in the fight. Both the accused were acquitted of all charges.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Yanika Vidal defended Agius, while lawyer Malcolm Mifsud assisted Mallia.