Hunter gets one year in jail for shooting kestrel

24-year-old from Bormla gets one year in jail and €5,000 fine for shooting kestrel

Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000. Photo: Ray Attard
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000. Photo: Ray Attard
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000
Kirsten Mifsud, 24 from Bormla, has been sentenced to one year in jail and fined €5,000

Kirsten Mifsud, 24, has been sentenced to one year in jail, a fine of €5,000, the revocation of his hunters' licence and his shotgun confiscated, for shooting a kestrel on Monday.

Three hunters were arraigned to face charges over the shooting of a protected kestrel yesterday, which led to the closure of the spring hunting season three days early. The injured bird landed in the school yard of St Edward's College to the schoolchildren's shock and dismay.

The first  of the men to be arraigned was 24 year old Kirsten Mifsud, known as il-Benghazi, was arrested along with a number of other hunters who were in the area when the kestrel was shot and he was previously known to the police. Mifsud pleaded not guilty to the accusations while the other hunters were taken to court to testify against him.

During the arraignment lawyer Jason Grima objected to the presence as parte civile of FKNK lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Kathleen Grima, saying the law only allowed this when there was an injured party.

Replying, Azzopardi said that since the spring hunting season was closed early following this incident, the FKNK was indeed an injured party, since a right that had been given by law had been denied to them due to the actions of the accused, who is not a member of the federation.

Prosecuting Inspector Jurgen Vella told the court how the police had received a call from St Edward's College about the shooting of the kestrel and the ALE had recovered the bird. Vella also produced a shotgun seized from Mifsud's home.

Joseph Aquilina testified that he had been with the accused yesterday and that he had seen him shooting the bird as it flew over  and told him 'x'ghamilt?' (what have you done?) to which Kirsten Mifsud had replied 'ghamejt' (I went blind).

Another hunter, Sean Spiteri, said he had also been hunting in the area and he heard three shots as the bird fell. He said the accused was there at the time and that he did not see anyone else.

Christopher Bonello said he had also been hunting in the area when the shots rang out and that he saw two people in the area - il-Benghazi and Sean Spiteri, known as iz-zanna. He added that he had heard as many as seven shots.

The FKNK had already said that the man in question is not a member of their organisation, but that another FKNK member was assisting the police in their investigation.

In a statement, Kaccaturi San Ubertu commended the immediate action by the police that led to the arrest of the hunter.

"Unfortunately the premature closure of the hunting season following 6 incidents, 3 of which resulted in arrests, was reason enough for 10,000 hunters to be collectively penalized for something totally unrelated to their exemplary behavior," KSU said.

"Such a rash decision sends out the wrong message and serves no purpose other than to antagonize law abiding hunters and warp public opinion. There's absolutely no point in having harsh penalties if all and sundry are punished for the crimes of a few. KSU reiterate their proposal to government to urgently implement a whistleblower procedure for the reporting of hunting crime to facilitate this process and offer their full cooperation to apprehend any defaulters."

The shot bird prompted Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to end the season three days ahead of its scheduled closure. "Despite sharp decline in illegalities, [yesterday’s] hunting incident is inexcusable. I have decided to immediately close the season," the Prime Minister said.

The FKNK, while condemning the illegal act, have voiced their opposition to Muscat’s decision.

“We never agreed with collective punishment: we disagreed with it in 2007; we disagreed with it during the closure of the last season and we disagree with it today,” Farrugia told MaltaToday yesterday.

Insisting that “collective punishment was not on”, Farrugia said FKNK was carrying out its own investigations into the case and added that “there was no proof as yet on who shot the bird or whether it was a licenced hunter”.

Kaccaturi San Ubertu joined the FKNK in condemning the shooting and commended the immediate action by the police that lead to the arrest of the person responsible for the crime.

Like the FKNK, KSU expressed their disapproval of the early closure of the season, saying that six incidents, three of which resulted in arrests and court proceedings, had led to 10,000 hunters to be 'collectively penalized' for something they were not responsible for.

"Such a rash decision sends out the wrong message and serves no purpose other than to antagonize law abiding hunters and warp public opinion. There's absolutely no point in having harsh penalties if all and sundry are punished for the crimes of a few," it said, in a press statement. 

"KSU reiterate their proposal to government to urgently implement a Whistle Blower procedure for the reporting of hunting crime to facilitate this process and offer their full cooperation to apprehend any defaulters.

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