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IAR in Malta Welcomes Prison Sentence for Illegal Hunters

IAR has welcomed the news from Malta that two hunters have been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and fined €9000 after being found guilty of shooting a protected flamingo in Salina. Their hunting licences have been revoked for life.

The killing took place in 2013 and raised a public outcry because it came after the referendum in Malta to ban spring hunting.

Justin Attard 26 and Cliff Borg 32 were accused of shooting and keeping the flamingo. Both were also accused of being repeat offenders.

During the trial, the court was told that a Salina resident had been watching television when a gunshot was heard. He went out on a balcony with his father, and heard a splashing sound which was moving closer to where they were standing.

They saw a man peering out near a gate on the coast road. A white Pajero (later identified as belonging to Justin Attard) was seen being driven up and down the road. The man then got into the car. At this point the witness called the police.

Blood and a pink feather were later found at the scene. The colour of the feather was the same as the flamingo which the witness said he had spotted earlier in the afternoon.

Court expert Dr Marisa Cassar testified that the feather found in the Pajero belonging to Justin Attard and another found near the gate came from the same bird.

Another expert, Stephen Farrugia Sacco, presented telephone evidence extracted from the mobile phones.

Stanley Gatt, a court-appointed expert, said he had examined traces of feathers found near the Pajero after the vehicle was found abandoned by the police near Wied Annotta. Some feathers were also found near the gate on the coast road. They all came from the same flamingo, as was confirmed by DNA tests.

Searches were carried out in the houses of the accused and 11 stuffed protected birds were found, including one which had recently been stuffed. A photo of this bird was also found on the mobile phone belonging to Mr Borg. The setting of the photo was Mr Borg's kitchen.

Several local residents also gave evidence.

Max Farrugia, Chairman of IAR Malta, said: “We welcome this sentence which sends out a strong message to other ‘would-be’ shooters of protected species that such wildlife crimes will not be tolerated and the penalties for those who carry them out will be severe. It is gratifying that these hunters were caught and convicted and will now have to face the consequences of their actions. We applaud the police, the court and everyone involved in the case for such a satisfactory outcome.”