Five men involved in a riot at a migrant detention centre in Safi two weeks ago have each been sentenced to 30 months in jail. 

Atshaha Atewarki, 21, Kitu Adam, 22, Baher Aden, 24, Ali Nabil, 18 and Radu Good Deng, 25, all Sudanese nationals except for Atewarki who is Eritrean, had initially pleaded not guilty to charges but reversed that plea when their case came before the courts on Friday.

They were among 27 people arraigned on September 19, the day after a riot broke out at Safi Barracks. A private security officer who allegedly fired a gun during the riots was also arraigned separately.

The five were charged with voluntarily damaging third party property, causing over €2500 in damages, taking part in an unlawful assembly of ten or more persons, for the purpose of committing an offence, refusing to obey legitimate orders, breaching the peace as well as acting as accomplices in setting a mattress on fire. 

The men had all pleaded not guilty when arraigned and were remanded in custody. 

At the first hearing of their case on Friday, after hearing testimony about the incident, the accused, assisted by interpreters and their legal counsel, informed the court that they wished to reconsider their position. 

The hearing was suspended, allowing the men to consult freely with their lawyer. 

When the hearing resumed, all five accused declared that they wished to plead guilty, confirming that admission, after being given further time to reconsider and even after the magistrate had warned them about the “substantial” punishment at stake. 

In the light of the accused’s “clear and unequivocal” plea, and after hearing submissions on punishment, the court, presided over by magistrate Ian Farrugia, condemned each of the men to a 30-month effective jail term.

Inspector Janetta Grixti prosecuted. Lawyer Christopher Chircop was legal aid counsel. 

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.