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Police violence will not be tolerated - minister

Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici has insisted that there is no excuse for violence, and incidents of police violence will not be tolerated.

Speaking in an interview to Steve Mallia for The Sunday Times, Dr Mifsud Bonnici said people should feel free to come forward to report incidents such as those reported last weekend (when a migrant was allegedly beaten by policemen).

He said investigations into this case should be concluded as quickly as possible and he would not tolerate a situation where any policeman harmed the image of the Corps.

The minister said that he believed that 95 percent of the members of the police force were doing their duties, but the remainder needed to be addressed.

He admitted that the police training system needed to be revisited in the light of current circumstance. "Training is not what I want it to be, I want it to get better" he said.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici said he could not understand how the migrants who were allegedly beaten by the police said nothing about the alleged beatings when they were arraigned in court. Possibly, he said, the judicial system was not working as one would want it. But this could, perhaps, have been a cultural issue - the migrants did not feel they had the freedom to speak up - or the defence and the court were not yet aware of what had allegedly happened. Such matters, he said, should be brought to the attention of the court so that they could be examined. But the practice in court was that when there was an admission by the accused, no further evidence was heard.

With hindsight, perhaps the proceedings could have been halted while the issue on the beatings was investigated.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici stressed that he did not believe the police were racist, and there was no evidence this incident was actually founded on racism. He did not think racism was prevalent in the country.

He also felt the police had committed mistakes in the way they arrested eyewitnesses. The duty of the police was to collect evidence for the prosecution and the defence and no one should demand particulars in a way which amounted to intimidation, he said.

The interview is being published in The Sunday Times today. Excerpts on video are carried above.

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