Men plead guilty to assaulting birdwatchers in Malta
Two men in Malta have pleaded guilty to assaulting two bird protection volunteers in April. They have admitted threatening the volunteers and slightly injuring one of them.
The two birdwatchers assisting BirdLife Malta said that on the day of the incident, while they were patrolling the area for illegal hunting, they heard shots coming from an area in Dingli. They walked up a country lane to gain a better vantage point when a van drove along the track. Two men got out and attacked them without warning.
The incident was caught on camera by one of the volunteers. However the camera fell to the ground while he was being attacked and one of the assailants took it. Later on the same day the camera was handed in to the Rabat police but with the footage evidence of the attack deleted. However, using O&O Media Recovery software, the deleted footage was recovered by BirdLife and handed over to the police as evidence.
Four days after the incident the assailants filed a judicial protest accusing the birdwatching volunteers of trespassing, breaching the peace and assault. They appeared in court but failed to provide any evidence to support the charges they had made. The charges were therefore dropped.
However the two men who attacked the bird watchers were fined €80, conditionally discharged and held by a personal guarantee of €233 not to approach or molest either of the volunteers for 12 months. Max Farrugia, Chairman of International Animal Rescue in Malta, stated that yet again the court in Malta had made a disappointing decision in connection with the hunting issue.
Nevertheless, this is the first time in three years of attacks against volunteers from both Birdlife Malta and Committee Against Bird Slaughter that the assailants have been convicted.
Two other incidents took place recently when the cars of bird guards from both groups were ambushed. On one occasion CABS guards were in the car, driving along a narrow country lane in an area that is notorious for illegal hunting. Both cases are being investigated by the police. CABS has offered a €10,000 award for anyone passing on information to them or to the police which leads to the culprits being prosecuted.