Prime Minister critical of police ‘heavy-handedness’ during environmental protest

Joseph Muscat has expressed disappointment at the way certain police officers handled activists who held a noisy protest at the Planning Authority on Thursday

One of the activists who had a bleeding scratch on his head after the police got rough on protestors
One of the activists who had a bleeding scratch on his head after the police got rough on protestors

Joseph Muscat has accused the police of acting heavy-handedly with environmental protestors, who tried to disrupt a Planning Authority meeting on Thursday.

The Prime Minister said the police mishandled the situation and insisted he did not want to see similar scenes again.

Activists from Graffitti and Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent protested outside the planning boardroom where a decision was to be taken on a fuel station application.

READ ALSO: Activists forcibly removed by police at peaceful demonstration at Planning Authority

The groups wanted to press the point that nine months after the Environment Minister announced that the fuel stations policy would be reviewed, no such revision had taken place and the authority was still discussing fuel station applications based on the existing policy that was more liberal.

The board eventually turned down the application for the construction of a fuel station at Bulebel, in the limits of Żejtun.

The noisy protest was broken up by the police amid scenes of activists being dragged out of the building.

Asked about the matter on Friday morning, Muscat described the actions of some police officers as “heavy-handed” and insisted he had expressed his disappointment at what happened through the appropriate channels. He did not elaborate.

“I have always defended the right of people to protest… I cannot understand what led to this escalation because a few weeks ago a similar protest ended completely different,” Muscat said. “I have made it clear that I do not want to see similar scenes again.”

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