The Police Commissioner is insisting that civil society organisers who organised a Republic Day protest in Valletta did not apply for a permit to do so.
He seems have forgotten the conversation he had with president-elect of NGO Repubblika Robert Aquilina and ex-president Marion Pace Asciak prior to the event.
Here is Aquilina’s account:
Last Wednesday morning, the Police Commissioner asked to meet me. We met in his office at 11:30 a.m. Also present for the meeting were: Marion Pace Asciak, the Deputy Commissioner, an Assistant Commissioner and a Superintendent.
On entering his office, the Police Commissioner immediately told us that he was very worried about the activities that were to be held on Republic Day. He said that he would refuse any request for authorisation to hold a protest and that he was concerned about the consequences of such an eventuality.
I replied that we had already explained, in a press release issued a few hours earlier, that this activity was not intended to be distinct from the official Republic Day celebrations.
In fact, we were encouraging the public to join us in the official celebrations, while showing their disapproval for the way in which our institutions have been hijacked by criminal organisations.
The Commissioner admitted that he was relieved with my explanation and that he now has a much better understanding of the facts. When I explained that a permit was not required for our activity as it was intended to be part of the official celebrations, the Commissioner said that he was now satisfied that everything would be done in respect of the law. We agreed on ways in which we could cooperate and the Commissioner asked us to issue a press release in this regard. When the meeting was over, we issued another press release regarding what had been agreed with the Commissioner.
The participants did not need a permit to boo or hold a placard any more than they would have needed one to clap. If anyone broke the law by booing, I expect law and order to prevail and to see some arrests.
Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing any.