A group of Marsaskala residents, including the locality’s minority leader John Baptist Camilleri, have been acquitted of charges that they ‘illegally’ hung up banners protesting plans for the redesigning of the locality’s square.
In a statement this afternoon, activist group Moviment Graffitti said the residents had been charged with the “absurd accusations of hanging banners illegally and of collecting funds for their activities in an illegal manner”.
“The magistrate immediately dismissed the case against them in the first court sitting,” the group said.
“Marsaskala residents are active citizens calling for improvements in their locality as well as calling out the greed of certain businesspeople who are robbing them of their quality of life and public spaces.”
The group said that the fact that the residents were questioned and charged by the police was in and of itself a form of intimidation.
The police charging residents with such “ridiculous” accusations was unacceptable, Moviment Graffitti said.
It added that the charges were issued following a complaint brought against them by a certain Eric Abela, who the group said had failed to show up in court to sustain his “baseless accusations”.
“Eric Abela holds business interests in Marsaskala square and has drawn the ire of residents after it came to light that, through his participation in a committee illegally constituted by the mayor, he was redesigning the square and its surroundings to serve his business interests,” the group said.
The committee, it added, was chaired by Abela’s cousin, Labour Party election candidate Ray Abela.
“Since then, the committee has been dissolved after residents revealed that it was set up in breach of applicable regulations, but they have also warned that the plans drawn up by this committee will now be pushed via an MTA design contest for the locality.”
The group stressed that residents would continue their “relentless activism” against the marina despite the clear attempts to intimidate them.
“Their organisation and determination shows the way forward to all Maltese and Gozitan residents who want to unite and fight against those forces that want to steal our spaces and destroy our environment for their personal gain.”
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