A young woman hoping for some New Year’s Eve fun was knocked unconscious when a bottle flew across a restaurant into her head during a violent brawl that broke out among dozens of diners.
Police unholstered taser guns and wrestled people to the ground during the fracas, which was caught on video by civilian bystanders. At least three people sustained injuries and several people were arrested, the police said.
The woman, a Lithuanian national who asked to remain anonymous, told Times of Malta that she was at Al Ustura restaurant in Paceville in the early hours of Friday for dinner, conversation and belly dancing.
But not long after the countdown that rang in 2021, she found herself in the middle of a brawl involving about 50 diners.
She said she suffered a head injury when a bottle was thrown across the room.
“I lost consciousness and was covered in blood. My boyfriend carried me out of the premises and took me to Mater Dei Hospital himself.
“The ambulance was taking too long to arrive and I was just left on the pavement,” the distraught woman said.
She said that her party were about to leave the restaurant as the fight broke out but got caught in it before they managed to exit.
“We grew uncomfortable with how chaotic the atmosphere was getting,” she said.
She also complained that the place was “overpacked with zero consideration for any COVID regulations”.
“This is not what we were promised at the time of booking as we were told it would be a dinner celebration with belly-dancing entertainment,” she said.
Public health authorities have repeatedly urged the public not to gather in large crowds over the holidays to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
Contacted on Friday, the restaurant owner declined to comment.
Uncomfortable with how chaotic the atmosphere was getting
A police spokesman told Times of Malta that the fight broke out among a group of Syrian and Libyan nationals at about 1am. It is not clear what sparked it.
Footage, seen by Times of Malta shows police outside an establishment on Paceville’s Triq Gort, near the Pendergardens development, detaining a number of people, including the driver of a vehicle who appears to be trying to flee the scene.
A silver Peugeot is seen driving through a group of officers gathered in the busy street attempting to control the crowd.
Officers are then seen swarming the car ordering the driver to stop and trying to smash open the front passenger window. The car is eventually brought to a halt and those inside are detained.
The police spokesman said the driver had been involved in the brawl and was trying to escape.
Throughout the video, officers are seen brandishing taser guns and the clicking sound of the electrical current can be heard.
It is not clear whether the weapons – meant to neutralise aggressors without causing lasting harm – were actually used on any civilians.
This was not the only violent incident to get caught on camera on New Year’s Eve.
Footage of another outburst, also seen by Times of Malta, shows two men assaulting each other on Valletta’s Old Theatre Street as onlookers try to get out of their way.
The police said the incident happened at 1.20am.
A 22-year-old man and 51-year-old man, both from Floriana, were arrested and questioned over the incident.
The 51-year-old was taken to Mater Dei Hospital for treatment after sustaining minor injuries. In the footage, the two can be seen dragging each other to the ground and at one point using an out-door gas heater as a makeshift weapon.
A number of people are expected to be arraigned over the incidents on Saturday.
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