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MaltaToday 28 September 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 28 SEPTEMBER 2022 2 NEWS KURT SANSONE GEORGE Hyzler will vacate the post of Standards Commission- er at the end of the week with no sign that the government and Opposition have agreed on a re- placement. Hyzler, appointed in 2018 when the post was created, had his last public engagement on Tuesday. Tomorrow, he leaves Malta to take up his post at the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg and will formally relinquish the post of Standards Commissioner on Friday. Asked about the lack of a re- placement for his role, Hyzler said that he had assurances from the Prime Minister that he will make "every effort" to have a successor appointed "as soon as possible". The Standards Commissioner, like the Ombudsman and Auditor General, is appointed by parlia- ment with a two-thirds majority. "I have no reason to doubt that assurance and I am sure the Op- position will also do its part to be reasonable and flexible," Hyzler said. He appealed for flexibility and maturity from both sides of the House and hoped that both his successor and that of the Om- budsman are agreed upon at the same time. He warned against delays in the appointment of his successor. The Ombudsman's term ex- pired in March last year and a re- placement has not been appoint- ed because Robert Abela and Bernard Grech could not agree on a name. The Ombudsman's law allows the incumbent to stay in office until a new person is appointed. No such provision exists for the Standards Commissioner, which means that after Friday the office will be vacant and unable to func- tion. Hyzler said he did not discuss or propose any names in talks with the Prime Minister earlier this week but suggested the inclusion of an anti-deadlock mechanism in the law to ensure a temporary replacement can be appointed until political consensus on a name is reached. Hyzler was taking questions from reporters after presiding over the presentation of a fourth report by the OECD to strength- en the code of ethics for minis- ters, MPs and other holders of public office. The Standards Commission- er acts as an ethics watchdog on MPs and other holders of high public office. Its work was instrumental in the removal of Rosianne Cutajar from parlia- mentary secretary by the prime minister and the resignation of Justyne Caruana from education minister, after separate investiga- tions that found ethical breaches by the two politicians. Hyzler's departure has been known for several months, given that government had nominat- ed him as Malta's appointee to the European Court of Auditors. Hyzler cleared the grilling at the hands of MEPs and was accepted by the European Council just be- fore the summer. However, so far, Robert Abela and Bernard Grech have been unable to agree on a name to re- place Hyzler and it remains un- clear whether the two had any meaningful discussions of late. Hyzler's suggestion for an an- ti-deadlock mechanism would see either one of the Ombudsman, the Auditor General and the Stand- ards Commissioner (all three ap- pointed by two-thirds majority in parliament) fill in any vacancy that may arise in their respective offices on a temporary basis until a replacement is found. Hyzler calls for flexibility by government, opposition in discussions on successor Jail for hunter, 24, who killed flamingos at Qawra Point George Hyzler leaves Malta today to take up his post at the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg MATTHEW AGIUS A 24-year-old hunter from Gzira has been sentenced to impris- onment for a year after a court found him guilty of killing four flamingos in Qawra last year. The accused, Miguel Zammit, was disqualified from holding a hunting licence. Zammit had been arrested after an eyewitness saw four flamingos being shot out of the sky. He had initially denied shooting the protected birds, pleading not guilty to charges and requesting bail. A previous bail request was refused, with the court noting a "clear case of poaching and that the accused could not have shot at the pro- tected birds in error". The court heard the testimo- ny of a birdwatcher who had been in the area when the in- cident occurred, who had ob- served the accused on the islet off Qawra Point shortly before hearing the gunshots. The eyewitness saw the four protected birds fall from the sky and reported the incident to both the police and Birdlife. The man's shotgun, ammunition were retrieved from the scene. The police recovered three of the shot flamingos, dead, from the sea in Qawra Point. Anoth- er dead flamingo was found on land. In a statement, BirdLife Malta said the hunter who would suf- fer revocation of his hunting li- cence for life, apart from being permanently disqualified from holding any firearm licence. "This means that he will not be able to hunt anymore, and neither will he be allowed to have any firearms in his pos- session," BirdLife said. "This sentence is the result of very well-documented evi- dence by the birdwatcher him- self and the BirdLife Malta of- ficial along with the efficient work of the police who arrived on site in a very short time. Ef- forts by the Armed Forces to retrieve the bird carcasses were also instrumental, along with the well-handled prosecution." While the culprit is expect- ed to appeal the jail sentence, BirdLife praised the Environ- mental Protection Unit (EPU) of the Police Force and other assisting authorities such as ERA and AFM, saying this re- sulat should act as a deterrent for such incidents. "Such a sentence should entice Government to actively seek to resource the above-mentioned entities so that illegalities of the kind are tackled efficient- ly from the field to the court room. Only then would the deterring effect bring about a change in the current situation with the illegal killing of wild birds. "Such actions would also con- trast the inefficacy of hunting organisations at disciplining their members, something which so far remains a lip ser- vice for public relations pur- poses." Miguel Zammit

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