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Hunter sent to prison for shooting down a kestrel in Malta

A 24 year old hunter, Kirsten Mifsud, better known among his friends as “Benghazi,” has been sentenced to one year in prison and fined 5000 Euros for shooting down a kestrel in Malta. He also had his gun confiscated and his licence suspended.

The kestrel, a protected species, fell within the premises of St Edwards College during the pupils’ midday break. The incident led to the closure of the hunting season three days before it was due to end officially. Magistrate Francesco Deqasquale hearing the case pointed out that the bird is a protected species and can easily be distinguished from those species which can be shot legally during the spring hunting season. He added that there was no doubt that the accused was aware of what he was shooting at, to the extent that he told a witness that he “was blinded,” meaning he couldn’t stop himself from shooting.

As a result of his actions, the hunting season was closed early, to the detriment of those hunters who obeyed the law.The court pointed out that all this had come about despite a month long debate on hunting which led to the holding of the referendum.

The magistrate also noted that the incident took place close to a school and the injured bird fell into the school grounds among the children, which could have caused them serious trauma. The magistrate’s final remark was that the court had a duty to convey the message that those who broke the law had to be severely punished. The accused chose not to testify.

Max Farrugia, Chairman of IAR Malta, said: “Kirsten Mifsud was fully aware that he was shooting at a protected species and the sentence he received is no more than he deserved. We’re pleased to see the government fulfilling its promise to close the hunting season if protected species are shot. As well as sending out a strong message that illegal shooting will not go unpunished, the decision spared the lives of hundreds of quail and turtle doves that would have been shot down during the last three days of the season.”