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Breaking news from Malta

One of the two hunters who were caught illegally hunting during the week was brought before the Court today. Hooded hunter Christian Gauci, 27, was arrested at the Natura 2000 nature reserve in Mellieha, and has been fined €4,685 by the Magistrates' Court. He was also banned from hunting for three years and had his gun confiscated.

In handing down judgement, Magistrate Giovanni Griscti observed that the accused had already twice been convicted of hunting-related offences. He said the fact that he was hooded and hunting in a nature reserve meant for the public's recreation could have translated into a prison term, but the court had instead opted for the maximum fine after the submissions of the prosecution and the defence.

Mr Gauci and Carl Borg, 30, both of Mellieha, were arraigned yesterday (April 21st) after they were filmed illegally hunting by a BBC crew and Birdlife on Thursday.

The two men were accused of illegal hunting on Thursday afternoon. They were also accused of being in possession of loaded shotguns and being hooded.

Carl Borg pleaded not guilty. He argued that he was not hunting within the confines of the reserve.

Max Farrugia from International Animal Rescue Malta said, “This is the first time that courts have served a sentence relative to the crime committed against the hunting/trapping regulations. It seems that  the courts will be starting to act seriously when crimes against biodiversity are committed by the bird hunters and trappers.”  He added,  “The Maltese hunters' cry is that they should be entitled to the same as other hunters in the EU. The courts should therefore give them the same kind of heavy punishments handed down to European poachers.”