Update 4 - Police show the press around their stables - TX replies
The Commissioner of Police this afternoon showed journalists around the police stables in Marsa to counter footage shown on One TV's TX programme yesterday which showed the place to be a shambles.
The TX team, however, stood its ground and said the situation was disgraceful.
"I was shocked when I saw the footage," Commissioner John Rizzo told the press.
He said he had immediately investigated and found that the footage was taken four months ago when maintenance works were under way. Tiles had been removed and fans were not in their place because of the works, Mr Rizzo said.
He said he regretted that a policeman had allowed in a journalist to take that footage in the dead of night. "That policeman should be ashamed" he said. He said the policeman had also harmed the horse shown in the footage as it was startled and woken up when the camera light was cast on it. That horse, he said, was a mare that was between 22 and 24 years old and had since been put down.
Her condition was the result of age, Mr Rizzo said, because the police did not put down their animals because of age and kept and treated them 'like colleagues' for as long as they could eat, drink and stand. They were only put down on directions of a Vet.
Asked about rats shown in the footage, Mr Rizzo said the rat seen going up a wall adjacent to the stables. It was actually heading towards a rats trap.
He said that the presence of rats could be expected in a place where there were 19 horses and animal feed, but the issue was under control.
The horses, he said, were cared for in a dignified manner and the stables were cleaned every day.
He said there was currently another horse, aged 33, and the process was under way for it to be put down. But all the other horses were in very good condition.
A spokesman for the Animal Welfare Department said inspectors were sent to the stables this morning to asses the state of the animals and the situation was not as shown in the footage. He said the horse shown to be in poor condition was not malnourished or maltreated and the appearance was due to the age.
In a statement, the Labour Party said the TV footage showed the shameful state of abandonment at the police stables, yet more proof of how the Home Affairs sector had been abandoned.
Spokesman Michael Falzon said it was unacceptable that policemen were made to work in such degrading environment, and it was also shameful that animals were being kept in such a state.
He noted that when people were found keeping animals in such a state, they were charged with animal cruelty.
Dr Falzon asked who would be shouldering responsibility.
TX TEAM'S REPLY
Meanwhile, the TX production team said the state of abandonment in the Mounted Police section was spread to more areas than those shown to the press by the Police Commissioner, and the date when the footage was shot did not reduce the gravity of the case.
The team said it received the footage a few days ago and it was transmitted after its authenticity was confirmed.
It had always been pointed out that the horses that were shown were old and retired, but their age certainly did not justify the poor state which they had been in, more so when such horses were, according to the Commissioner, considered as ‘colleagues ‘of the police.
While the Commissioner had tried to give the impression that the rats were far from the stables, the footage showed rat droppings in the stables and rats running around in the garages forming part of the section.
Nothing justified the state of abandonment and filth which the stables and the quarters were in. While it had been easy for the police to quickly clean up the stables, journalists were kept away from sections of the building which were structurally unsound, the team said.
And it was shameful that instead of discussing the real situation, the police were trying to hinder the journalists’ work as a time when the country was discussing a Whistle Blowers Act.