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Hunters pay a heavy penalty for vandalising trees in Malta

Three young Maltese hunters have been ordered each to carry out 300 hours' community service after pleading guilty to destroying a number of trees in the North of Malta in April this year. This is the first time in the history of the Malta Law Courts that such a heavy community service penalty has been given to someone who pleaded guilty.

In all 104 trees were destroyed. A similar act of vandalism took place some years ago but the vandals were never traced. The trees were part of Foresta 2000 which is a joint project between local NGOs and the Ministry for Rural affairs. Most of them are sponsored by local groups, businesses and the general public. In all more than 1,500 trees have been planted so far. Every year during October a considerable number of trees is planted in different parts of the island as part of the Tree4You campaign.

The three men - Darren Cross, 24, of Birkirkara; Noel Grech, 24, of Mosta; and Charlot Chetcuti, 20, also of Mosta - were also fined €1,000 each. They were also ordered to pay €1,320 each to cover the €3,960 cost of the trees.

Police sources said the men had admitted that they had vandalised the trees in anger at the decisions that had been taken regarding hunting in Malta.

In his verdict Magistrate Anthony Vella also warned the men that they would be sent to jail immediately should they commit another similar crime.