Court hears evidence in hunters' illegal protest case

Nine hunters charged with forming part of an illegal protest placed under bill of indictment

A hunter who is alleged to have participated in the illegal pro-hunting protest in Valletta approached tourists, mimicked horns on his head, and told them that “the Prime Minister is a bull.”

The revelation was made this morning during the compilation of evidence against nine hunters. The men, aged between 19 and 44, are being charged with forming part of an illegal protest during which they showed disrespect to the government, with conspiring with others to commit a crime to break the law, and with insulting the Prime Minister and the government of Malta.  

Magistrate Anthony Vella decreed that there is enough prima facie evidence to place the accused under a bill of indictment.

The protest was held in the wake of the government’s decision to curtail the autumn hunting season, a decision the hunting lobby has described as being “a collective punishment.” Sometime later, a group of 30 hunters attacked 13 BirdLife birdwatchers.

The nine men are Arnold Farrugia, 21, of Dingli, Brian Grech, 21, of Rabat, David Spagnol, 44, of Marsascala, Gabriel Farrugia, 19, of Mosta, Krist Callus, 23, of Zurrieq; Alan Mizzi, 22, of Zebbug (Gozo); Simon Camilleri, 26, of Zabbar; Oliver Borg, 42, of Marsascala; and Josmar Buhagiar, 28, of

Inspector Daryl Borg explained that on 21 September, he was called in after police received reports that a crowd had gathered to take part in an illegal protest. Initially, the inspector explained, 100 hunters gathered at City Gate and half an hour later, this number increased to 250.

The crowd then made its way along Republic Street and protested in front of the Labour Party club in Valletta, St George’s Square, and Castille.

“At one point, I saw David Spagnol approach tourists at St George’s Square. He [Spagnol] went up to them, made a gesture of horns on his head, and told them that the Prime Minister is a bull,” the inspector said.

Later, he said, Spagnol, and Simon Camilleri got into an argument with a journalist and a cameraman.

Moreover, he testified that he saw Alan Mizzi throw a bottle of water towards the PL club, Farrugia holding an imitation shotgun, and Krist Callus pushing a TimesofMalta cameraman.

On his part, Inspector Jurgen Vella told the court that the hunters had informed him that they got to know of the protest from a Facebook group called ‘Ghaqda Kaccaturi Maltin.’ After arresting the hunters, the inspector explained that Alan Mizzi admitted to taking part in the protest, and to insulting the prime minister and the government.

Krist Callus admitted to pushing the cameraman while Farrugia admitted to have gone to the Salib Tal-Gholja but denied having assaulted BirdLife birdwatchers.

While pointing out that no hunter is yet to be charged with assaulting the Birdlife volunteers, Inspector Edel Mary Camilleri told the court that after arriving in Buskett, some people were asking for help and claimed that hunters had thrown rocks at them.

“Oliver Borg and Josmar Buhagiar were in a car nearby, and after interrogating them, they admitted to taking part in the illegal protest,” he said.

Lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha, Franco Debono were defence counsel.

Superintendent Carmelo Bartolo, and Inspectors Daryl Borg, Jurgen Vella and Edel Mary Camilleri are prosecuting.

The case continues on 4 December.