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MaltaToday 20 April 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 20 APRIL 2022 2 NEWS NICOLE MEILAK BIRDLIFE Malta volunteers and members caught hunters shooting at protected marsh harriers during the first hours of the night in Delimara. According to the NGO a number of hunters had their eyes on a roost of around 30 birds of prey, mainly western marsh harriers (Bagħdan Aħmar). The BirdLife Malta team re- mained on site throughout the night and eventually heard gunshots. Through night vision optics, the team was able to record one of the birds being shot at and falling into a field. BirdLife Malta said the police were informed of the incident and mem- bers of the Rapid Intervention Unit eventually arrived on site. However, they arrived too late to catch the cul- prits, and were unsure of what to do. Both Birdlife Malta and the RIU remained on site until daylight, after which they searched the area to re- trieve the injured birds. Four were found alive and handed over to the government veterinarians. A fifth marsh harrier was found dead. The NGO described the incident as a massacre and said the scene left those present in shock. BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said it was "shock- ing and unacceptable", and added that government had a lot to answer for. "There is an inacceptable racket go- ing on with the blessing of the coun- try's government. Why do you think hunters are killing these protected birds? Why do you think a young man kills four Flamingos at Qawra Point and jumps into the sea to re- trieve them?" he questioned. The spring hunting season opened last Sunday, but only for turtle dove and quail species due to a derogation applied by the Maltese government. Western marsh harriers are a pro- tected species and cannot be hunted legally. Government had introduced a moratorium on turtle dove hunting in spring after the species was clas- sified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conser- vation of Nature. Meanwhile, the NGO demanded that the Prime Minister make sure the vetting of the lists of protected species in hunters' collections com- mences immediately and is under- taken by bird experts within the En- vironment and Resources Authority. This process for hunters to declare their collections was never com- pleted, with BirdLife Malta having argued that government effectively granted an amnesty to those who transferred such specimens without written authorisation from the Wild Birds Regulation Unit. It further demanded that wildlife crime enforcement should be taken seriously since Malta is already fac- ing infringement proceedings initiat- ed by the European Commission on this subject. BirdLife Malta's Head of Conserva- tion Nicholas Barbara said the NGO will submit a detailed report to the European Commission on this inci- dent, and others of recent past. BirdLife Malta catches poachers shooting protected marsh harriers at Delimara MATTHEW AGIUS PROSECUTORS have described a man on trial over an attempt to smuggle 50kg of cannabis resin from Tunisia as the "head of the pyramid" in the plan to import dou- ble that amount. This emerged as the trial by jury of 52-year-old Ahmed el Fadalli Enan from Egypt continued on Tuesday. Enan is accused of complicity in the attempted importation of 50kg of cannabis in 2010. The prosecution is alleging that Enan had sent a Mal- tese man, Tano Farrugia, to Tunisia to collect the drugs from a hotel, unaware that Tunisian police officers who had found out about the plot, were waiting for him. The Tunisian authorities later sentenced Farrugia to impris- onment for 20 years, but he was later released in 2013, together with around 300 other inmates, following an amnesty granted by the Tunisian President, marking two years from the country's revolution. Prosecuting lawyers Kevin Valletta and Godwin Cini, from the Office of the Attorney General told Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera that the accused was the "head of the pyramid" of the plan to import 100kg of cannabis into Malta. For his services, Farrugia had been promised €15,000, but the plan had disintegrated after Farrugia's arrest in the North African country, the court was told. Farrugia, who cannot be prosecuted in Malta for his part in the smuggling operation due to double jeopardy, is expected to testify as a prosecution witness in Enan's trial. Jurors heard today how Tano Farrugia's brother Adri- an had filed a report with the Maltese police after he learnt that his brother had been arrested in Tunisia, drugs having been found in his hotel room. Tano had called his brother, telling him that the Tu- nisian police wanted him to initiate contact with the person who had sent him to Tunisia, by going to a bocci club to meet a certain Ahmed. Adrian Farrugia had complied, but when he had spo- ken to Ahmed, who was later identified as being the accused, the man had initially refused to speak to him, but later admitted to having sent Tano to collect some drugs for him. Farrugia had then filed a police report on the matter. Enan was arrested on 13 January 2010. A police raid on his home discovered receipts for money transfers sent abroad, which were thought to be connected to the plan. He was charged the next day. The prosecution also told the jury that the Tunisian police had found receipts indicating that the person who delivered the drugs to Tano Farrugia had been paid through a money transfer sent by the accused. The plan was that the next day, Farrugia was to take delivery of another 50kg of cannabis from a boat that would moor in front of the hotel Farrugia had been stay- ing in. Lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace is defence counsel to the accused. Man on trial over drug smuggling plot from Tunisia was 'head of the pyramid', jury hears

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