Evidence of violent pro-hunting protest planned in Malta
Police in Malta have arrested four men suspected of planning an illegal pro-hunting demonstration. At a press conference at the police headquarters Assistant Commissioner Josie Brincat said that hunters on the island were being contacted by SMS message and urged to take part in a violent protest at Ta’ Qali National Park. Recipients were told to come armed with weapons. However one individual warned the police who took immediate action and arrested four people - three men and a 17 year old boy.
The message which was circulating read: "A big motorcade and a spectacular protest next Sunday at 10 am. The migration is here and we cannot go out. Patience is running out and we’re going to turn this country to dust.
"Bring with you iron, wood, stones, knives, petrol and matches. Send this message to all the enthusiasts you know... We’ll meet at Ta’ Qali at 10."
Mr Brincat made it clear during the press conference that anyone responding to the message would be party to what was known legally as an unlawful assembly.
The Hunters Federation (FKNK) immediately dissociated itself from the protest and stated that a protest at this stage could do more harm than good to its cause.
However, the posts on the FKNK’s forum during the last few days have shown the tension among hunters as they await the decision by the European Court of Justice on whether to impose interim measures before taking a final decision on the future of spring hunting in Malta. The decision is being taken right at the peak of the season.
Graffiti has appeared by the roadside in different locations making threats in connection with the possibility of spring hunting being curtailed. Earlier in the month three bird watchers’ cars were set on fire at Busketto which is a protected area.
The four accused pleaded not guilty and were given bail on a deposit of 2000 euros each and also told to report their presence at the police station of the villages they live in twice a week.
Earlier in the week, following a tip-off, the police proceeded to the sister Island of Gozo and found 161 stuffed bird species during a search of a private house. Out of these 147 are protected species. A 21 year old man was arrested and brought before the court.
Following a very quiet start for April International Animal Rescue Malta received a number of reports of illegal hunting and also received three injured birds which were shot over the weekend. A gull was shot at sea near the Mistra Fish farms, St. Paul’s Bay, a night heron at Marsaxlook and a harrier at Bidnija.