Father and son charged with illegal hunting

47-year-old Joseph Mallia and his son, 20-year-old Mario Mallia were arrested in Hal Ghaxaq for hunting outside the permitted hours

(File photo)
(File photo)

A father and son have been charged with hunting for birds during the closed season.

47-year-old Keith Joseph Mallia and his son Mario Mallia, 20, were arrested near the chapel of Santu Kristu in Ghaxaq at 6pm yesterday evening after police were informed that people were hunting in the area.

Although the hunting season is open till Saturday, hunting is only permitted until midday.

Inspector Colin Sheldon told magistrate Doreen Clarke that when police arrived on the scene they had found Keith Mallia holding a firearm. As soon as he saw the ALE officers, he had called out to his son, telling him to run away. Mario Mallia was later picked up on the road out of the area by the police on their return to Floriana HQ.

The Mallias are well known to the police and are on bail pending an appeal against a theft conviction which had them sentenced to 7 years in prison between them.

Keith Mallia was charged with carrying a hunting firearm in the open during the closed season, attempting to hunt during the closed season, conspiring to assist someone in breaching the hunting regulations, carrying a hunting shotgun without a licence, breaching the conditions of his firearms licence and relapsing. The shotgun he was using at the time was registered to his father.

Mario Mallia was accused of conspiring to breach the hunting regulations during the closed season and relapsing.

Lawyer Franco Debono who appeared for the pair together with lawyer Amadeus Cachia argued that there was no reason for the arrest of Keith Mallia. “The law is misinterpreted. The discretion to arrest is not the same to arraign under arrest…When you justify the arraignment under arrest you must view other methods of arraignment. You can be arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime, but not arraigned.”

Debono highlighted the legal anomaly whereby the police have absolute discretion to arraign a person charged with murder by writ of summons and a person who refuses to give police their details under arrest. Arrest should be a measure of last resort, argued the lawyer.

The court, however declared the arrest legal and valid.

Mario Mallia pleaded guilty to the charges against him and was fined €1500, payable over 6 months.

His father however denied the accusations and was released on bail on condition that he sign a bail book weekly, deposit €200 and provide a personal guarantee of €2000, with the court adding the condition that he does not use any of the firearms registered on his father’s name.

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