Updated 12.10pm

Twenty-two migrants were arraigned on Wednesday morning over their alleged involvement in a violent protest that broke out on Monday evening at the Safi detention centre. 

The group of men, in blue track suits and tied at the hands in twos with plastic ties, were escorted to court under the watchful eyes of numerous policemen and heavily armed guards.

The large majority were Sudanese nationals, with seven of them from Libya Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Cameroon and Algeria.

Ages ranged between 18 and 44, with two of them still minors aged 15 and 17.

All members of the group were charged with insulting and threatening four public officers, violently resisting arrest, slightly injuring the officers involved, participating in a riot, criminal conspiracy and voluntary damage to third party property.

Other charges related to breach of peace, refusing to obey legitimate orders and throwing stones and other hard objects.

All migrants pleaded not guilty to the charges and were remanded in custody. No request for bail was made at the arraignment.

At the start of the hearing, legal aid lawyer Yanika Bugeja informed the Court that she was assisting all 22 migrants solely at the arraignment stage and requested that other lawyers were to be appointed to assist throughout the continuation of proceedings, pointing out that this was necessary to avoid possible conflicts of interest. 

The riots allegedly broke out at around 7:30pm on Monday.

The police said that migrants had attempted to rush the gate, throwing stones at police and detention officers. Dormitories and administrative offices were damaged.

Magistrate Victor George Axiaq presided over the arraignment.

Inspector Melvyn Camilleri prosecuted. 

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