Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has criticised the police officers who manhandled protestors at the Planning Authority headquarters yesterday.
“In my opinion the reaction of some of the police officers was heavy-handed and I think the case was mishandled,” he said, when questioned by the press, adding that he defended civilians’ rights to protest peacefully.
“I am confused because there was a similar protest a few weeks ago and the police allowed the activists to protest in peace.”
The police officers from the Rapid Intervention Unit (RIU) and the district police drew controversy yesterday when they physically removed activists from Moviment Graffitti and Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent who had gathered at the Planning Authority in protest at development applications for petrol stations in ODZ land.
While some police officers were heard urging their colleagues not to use force, others were decidedly more harsh, and the intervention resulted in a number of activists getting cuts on their faces.
The Nationalist Party also condemned the incident, arguing that the police’s job should be to protect, and not silence, peaceful protestors.
“In a truly democratic country, citizens, civil society and the police alike deserve better,” the party said.