Two men who were each fined €15,000 for illegally setting off small fireworks known as stoppini that exceed the one-centimetre diameter allowed by law, have had their fine converted to 60 hours of community service on appeal.

Stephen Borg and Edmond Camilleri had been fined after they were found guilty of illegally setting off the stoppini from a scaffold in a field close to a residential area during the Xewkija feast, on June 21, 2018, at 11.15pm.

They were cleared of seriously injuring a man through their negligence since the charge was time-barred.

The two men had originally been charged together with another five men who had been cleared of all charges.

Borg and Camilleri appealed their conviction on various grounds. They insisted that they had not set off stoppini but used a different form of fireworks, known as Chinese cakes. Back then the law stated that stoppini could not exceed 1cm in diameter and Chinese cakes could not exceed 3cm.

Unlike stoppini that are individual fireworks, Chinese cakes usually came in clusters but Borg and Camilleri insisted that they had separated Chinese cakes to launch them individually. This did not mean they had become stoppini.

They also noted that, as reported by an expert during the court case, the largest diameter found on site was of 2.8cm. They argued that, even if the court insisted that they were using stoppini, given the minuscule deviation from the law, the fine was excessive, especially given the fact that they were licensed to handle fireworks and had a permit to do so on the night.

Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera upheld their appeal and converted the fine into 60 hours of community service each.  

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri were counsel to appellants.

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