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Jail sentence for Maltese drug trafficker in possession of dead protected bird species

Jean Pierre Abdilla, 31, a former police force member in Malta, has been jailed for 16 years and fined €40,000, and had all his property confiscated after he was found guilty of conspiring to deal in heroin, trafficking in the drug and breaching administrative law enforcement regulations. These included attempted trafficking in illegal migrants, possession of protected bird species and trying to bribe a government official. The cases happened on and before March 2005 when he was a serving officer. The jurors found Mr Abdilla guilty by seven votes to two for conspiring to traffic up to a kilogramme of heroin, possession of the drug and trying to bribe an immigration official.

He was also found unanimously guilty of breaching administrative law enforcement regulations governing the protection of wildlife and possessing dead protected birds in a chest freezer. In all he had 20 dead birds, namely black-necked grebe, cormorant, purple heron, two night herons, shelduck, two marsh harriers, peregrine falcon, hobby, kestrel, two lesser kestrels, lesser black-backed gull, cuckoo, nightjar, housemartin, and three golden orioles. The prosecuting lawyer from the Attorney General's Office, Nadine Sant, said the accused was not credible enough to be relied upon, particularly because he was so inconsistent during his evidence. She highlighted a marginal issue concerning the dead protected birds found in his freezer when the police searched his home in Zurrieq. She said he changed his version three times on where the birds had come from. During the search he had said the birds belonged to his brother, then claimed they were his and later changed his tune again and said they belonged to his brother.

The third case against Abdilla was that he tried to bribe a government customs official to import illegal migrants from Morocco.

This is not the first time that drugs, the smuggling of illegal migrants and the illegal possession of bird species have been connected.