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Court insists on zero tolerance for offences against public officials

Two-year jail term and deportation for man who hit police officer

A court launched its umpteenth appeal of "zero tolerance" for offences against public officials, when delivering judgment in the case of a man facing multiple charges after a violent episode at the lock-up.

Tunisian-born Abdell Raouf Mohfoudi Ali Hassan, 36, had been taken to the police headquarters for questioning one Sunday night in May when, at one point, he allegedly started to bang his head against a cell door, injuring himself in the process.

While being escorted to Mater Dei Hospital for medical attention, the man allegedly kicked one of the police officers in the head, causing him slight injuries.

Noting the man's allegedly aggressive behaviour, doctors at the emergency department had recommended the administration of sedatives and had allegedly referred the patient to the ITU where he could be constantly monitored.

However, police officers returning to Mater Dei to escort the man a few days later, when the latter had been pronounced fit for discharge, the suspect tried to harm himself inside one of the hospital toilets and it was only the timely intervention of the guard standing on watch that stopped him.

The man was later charged with attacking or violently resisting a police officer, threatening more than three officers and slightly injuring one of them, breaching earlier bail conditions, breaching public order and uttering foul language.

In a strongly-worded judgment, magistrate Joseph Mifsud reiterated his appeal that police officers were to be protected in the exercise of their duty and there was no justification for any threats or injuries in their regard.

“The court feels that ought to once again send out a message to society at large that such attitude was not acceptable and must be censored,” magistrate Mifsud declared, adding that the police worked to protect citizens and ought not end up in a situation where they feared to exercise their civic duties.

“The court encourages police officers to intervene whenever any shortcoming by a third party necessitated this and thereby ensure harmony within society,” the magistrate continued, adding that no officer ought to leave home for a day’s work fearing that they might not make it back safe and sound when ending up injured or infected in the course of their duties.

On the basis of all evidence put forward, the court concluded that the prosecution had succeeded in proving its case beyond reasonable doubt and therefore declared the accused guilty, sentencing him to a two-year effective jail term and a €5,000 fine.

The man was also to forfeit a €2,000 personal guarantee imposed under a bail decree and was to foot the bill of €1,225 for court expert expenses.

The court finally ordered that once the accused had served his time in prison, he would be sent back to Tunis “since he was a peril to society and a threat to public order”.

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