Birdlife activist who accompanied BBC presenter Chris Packham cleared of trespassing

Birdlife activist Nimrod Mifsud, 32, was charged with trespassing on land in Mizieb back in 2014, which hunters claim is a reserve accorded solely to them

Video still from 'Massacre on Migration', with a hunter, left, telling Chris Packham, right, and Nimrod Mifsud to stop filming the Mizieb environs
Video still from 'Massacre on Migration', with a hunter, left, telling Chris Packham, right, and Nimrod Mifsud to stop filming the Mizieb environs

The Birdlife activist, who had accompanied BBC presenter Chris Packham while filming a documentary in Mizieb has been cleared of trespassing on private land and exercising a pretended right, after no evidence that he had been on private land or that he had interfered with anyone’s rights was offered.

In 2014, Nimrod Mifsud, 32, had been charged with trespassing on land in Mizieb, which hunters claim is a reserve accorded to them by agreement with the government, back in 1986.

Mifsud had been accompanying BBC presenter Chris Packham in his attempt to interview hunters in the Spring of 2014 and was subsequently charged with trespassing in Mizieb and exercising a pretended right. Neither Packham nor his British crew had been charged in connection with the incident.

He was also accused of interfering with hunters Kenneth Sciberras and Robert Booker’s right to enjoyment of their property.

The young activist denied trespassing onto the hunter’s property and had testified to having stuck to the dirt track whilst in Mizieb.

During the hearing of the case, Magistrate Charmaine Galea heard Lino Farrugia, the chief executive officer of the FKNK explain that following an agreement signed by former Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici on 11 April, 1986, the land had been reserved exclusively for use by hunters during the open season.

Through this agreement, the public land in question was placed under the “administration” of the FKNK and forbade access to the nature reserve by unauthorised persons. Farrugia said that the agreement had been confirmed in October 1989, through the endorsement given by the deputy Prime Minister of the time, Prof. Guido de Marco.

In a decision handed down today, the court noted that the accused and his companions were walking in the Ahrax tal-Mellieha area, filmed some hunters in action and an argument had broken out. The court observed that the elements of the crimes imputed to him were not all present.

“It does not emerge that the accused interfered with their possession or interfered with their belongings. It was in no way proven that the two persons [Sciberras and Booker] had exclusive possession of the dirt track where the accused was passing. He was neither filming nor conducting any interviews. He was simply accompanying a foreign camera crew.”

His mere presence on the dirt track did not prove that he was dispossessing the two hunters, held the court.

“The court observes that we are in the criminal law sphere, where the evidence produced by the prosecution must be the best evidence available.”  

The prosecution’s failure to present a copy of a detailed site plan that outlined the areas covered by the 1986 agreement in support of its claim of trespass, meant that this was not conclusively proven, said the magistrate, dismissing the charges.

Inspector Nikolai Sant prosecuted. Lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell was defence counsel. Lawyer Kathleen Grima represented the FKNK as parte civile.