Muscat’s comments on police heavy-handedness in PA protest ‘harms morale’ say police

Malta Police Association voices disappointment at Joseph Muscat's comments on how the police handled protestors at the Planning Authority

Protestors at the Planning Authority are removed forcibly by police officers and members of the RIU
Protestors at the Planning Authority are removed forcibly by police officers and members of the RIU

The executive committee of the Malta Police Association (MPA) has voiced outrage at the Prime Minister's condemnation of the police force after what he described was a 'heavy-handed' reaction to the protestors at the Planning Authority (PA) building.

The MPA said that by no means should the police not be held accountable, “but words of condemnation whose only purpose are to score populist political points, are regretful.”

"We have not seen a disproportionate use of force in any of the video clips that have been shared by the media," a spokesperson for the MPA said.

The MPA said the Prime Minister's comments were unfair for this reason and, in any case, the protestors had gained access to the PA building illegally.

The protest, spearheaded by Moviment Graffiti and Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent took place during a Planning Authority board meeting and in vindication of the authority's refusal to review the controversial ODZ fuel station policy. Activists sang and made use of drums, cymbals and maracas just inside the PA building foyer.

A board headed by retired judge Francesco Depasquale will be looking into whether officers acted violently.

The MPA said that what the protestors were doing was abusive and intentionally disruptive during a board meeting that was taking place at the time. "The protestors were given legitimate reasons to exit the building," the MPA said. "Upon refusal, the police had no option but to be physically drag them out."

The MPA, claimed that "it's absurd that the police force was accused of smothering the activists' voices because these were allowed to continue their protest outside the PA building."

The MPA asked what Maltese politicians are expecting from the police force. "Do we remain passive and allow everyone to do as they please?" they asked.

They said that comments like the Prime Minister's harm the morale of police officers who are out on the streets and doing their job. "Despite the obstacles that we face, despite the empty words that promised certain things to our members, and despite the fact that we are still largely forgotten, we are out there doing our duty."

"We hope that nobody will be sacrificed on the artal of politics for doing his or her job. If an investigation is to be made, so be it. All words of condemnation, however, should be left for after the investigation is complete."