Attacks, drink sending young foreigners to hospital - The Times - 7/9/2006

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Attacks, drink sending young foreigners to hospital
Herman Grech

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

A 14-year-old Russian girl walks into St Luke's Hospital in the early hours of the morning looking traumatised. Her right eye appears gashed and she complains of double vision when she looks sideways. She says she was assaulted by a man.

Minutes later, a 17-year old boy is admitted into the Casualty Department with a severe laceration to his left thumb, reporting he was attacked with a broken bottle.

They are two of the many casualty reports filed at St Luke's Hospital in July involving young foreigners, often English language students, who are increasingly contributing to the 110,000 admitted to the Casualty Department every year.

Several youngsters are ending up in hospital, and according to St Luke's Hospital superintendent Frank Bartolo, the figures are mounting by the year.

Hospital documents seen by The Times for the month of July reveal a trail of brawls, fights and alcohol-fuelled incidents, most of which take place in the Paceville area.

Some of the youngsters are victims of young men and sometimes women who go out with the expectation, and sometimes intention, of picking a fight.

However, drunk and unconscious students were also being admitted to hospital practically every night, Dr Bartolo said, forcing the six doctors normally engaged at night to work non-stop.

"Apart from the shocking factor that most of these students are underage, we also have to take into consideration the costs involved for St Luke's Hospital. CT scans, X-rays and blood tests cost hundreds of liri," he said. The two cases of young foreign girls allegedly held at knifepoint recently were evidently only the tip of the iceberg and several cases remain unreported. Suffice it to say that three 16-year-old foreign girls had to seek hospital assistance in July after being set upon.

One of them was allegedly beaten up after she turned down the advances of some men while dancing in a Paceville bar.

On July 22, another girl walked into hospital suffering from abrasions and cuts to the face, nose, right temple and shoulder.

A few days later, a 22-year-old girl was admitted to hospital at 3 a.m. nursing head injuries after she was allegedly attacked by three men.

A 20-year-old British youth was admitted to hospital at 1 a.m. one night in July with injuries to his eye, eyebrow area and teeth after he was assaulted.

Shortly afterwards, a 22-year-old man was admitted with head, knee and chest injuries and a fractured nasal bone after he was purportedly assaulted by a group of men and "beaten against a car bumper". He was apparently walking along the St Julians promenade with his mother and brother.

Bouncers and security personnel are often involved in fights, according to doctors in the Casualty Department.

Only recently, two Maltese individuals who were receiving treatment at hospital late at night were heard saying they were going back to Paceville to beat up the bouncers who inflicted the injuries in the first place.

"It's incredible. Some of them are going for blood," one senior doctor told The Times.

A number of questions on the matter were e-mailed to the police's press office yesterday.

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