Twenty-seven migrants allegedly involved in the riots at the Safi detention centre on Friday, were remanded in custody following their arraignment on Saturday.

The migrants, arraigned in five separate groups, were mainly Sudanese nationals with others from Eritrea, Somalia, Cameroon and Chad.

The alleged riots broke out in the very early hours of Friday, between 1.45am and 2.30am.

The first group, ranging in age from 15 to 37, were charged with voluntary damage to third-party property, including windows and other structures, taking part in a riot of 10 or more people, refusing to obey legitimate orders, breaching the peace and setting a mattress on fire.

Two of the men, aged 22 and 23, were separately charged with injuring four police officers, two of whom allegedly suffered grievous injuries.

All were further charged with escaping from detention.

The other four groups of migrants, aged between 15 and 35, were charged with damaging third-party property, participating in a riot, complicity in arson, failing to obey legitimate orders as well as breaching the peace.

All 27 pleaded not guilty.

Prosecuting Inspector Jeanetta Grixti strongly to bail, arguing that there could be a repeat of the alleged incident if the accused were to be allowed back to the Safi centre.

After hearing submissions by both parties, the court, presided over by magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit, turned down the request for bail, in view of the gravity of the charges and the risk of tampering with evidence since civilian witnesses, back at the centre, were still to testify.

The court remanded all 27 migrants in custody, the six minors to be detained at the Young Offenders’ Unit (YOURS).

Martin Fenech was legal aid lawyer.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us