WATCH: Police Union Chief Says Sicilian Contractor Grabbed Maltese Officer By The Throat
The incident had erupted after police officers stopped the man from entering his burning vehicle
Malta's police union chief has defended the 'heroic' policemen accused of heavy-handedness when dealing with a Sicilian businessman whose vehicle had been put on fire, reiterating his call for body cameras to be mandatory for Maltese police officers following the incident.
Saying a magisterial inquiry has been called, and that all six officers involved in the incident have already given their testimony, Sandro Camilleri said that the footage which was published by the Italian media does not tell the whole story.
He confirmed that there is further footage from before the incident, and that this has been passed on to the magisterial inquiry.
"There seems to be more evidence on the case, and there is some very conflicting evidence, but it seems that this person was aggressive towards the police, and had even tried to enter one of the vehicles that were on fire," Sandro Camilleri said to Lovin Malta.
He also lamented "racial" tensions that had arisen between Italians and Maltese following this incident.
His comments come after he released a video defending Maltese police officers involved in the incident with Fabrizio Sciré, the Sicilian man.
"The policemen tried to calm him down repeatedly - he might have had his reasons as he was seeing his vehicle on fire - but, he was the one who was aggressive towards police, and he even grabs a policeman by the throat at some point," he said in the video.
Camilleri said many people had reached out to him wondering why the police hadn't responded to the allegations.
"These policemen are heroes," he continued, saying that the officers had shown their heroism in their response to the intense storm over the weekend. "Heroes who spent the entire night fighting against the elements, for which the Maltese people thanked them - these are the same people."
The incident took place on the 23rd February outside Sciré’s store in Ħaż-Żebbuġ
Three police vehicles had been called in to close off a Żebbuġ street after an arson attack had been reported. Upon arriving at the scene, police found a at least one of Sciré's vehicles on fire on the side of the road.
Although the Sicilian businessman said there was only one of his vehicles on fire, Camilleri said there were more than one vehicle on fire.
Sciré arrived on the scene in an agitated state with his two sons, one of whom is just eight years old, to find the RIU officers near the vehicles. Though it was rainy and windy, the fire was picking up in the wind, and someone on the scene was attempting to contain the fire using a hose-pipe.
Sources have told Lovin Malta that Sciré had asked the officers to help him move his two other vehicles which were at risk of catching on fire, to which the officers refused because it was too dangerous.
Sciré said he was then mocked by the officers and shoved for no reason.
At some point, Sciré complained of chest pains to the police, to which the officers offered to call an ambulance. He refused, but an ambulance was called nonetheless - Sciré had recently undergone an operation.
Soon after, Sciré looked like he was about to collapse forward, leading to a police officer to grab him to keep him standing upright.
However, soon after, a scuffle erupted, before most of the police officer piled in and pushed Sciré against the wall as his sons protested nearby.