A building contractor, Martin Farrugia, 46, was fined €20,000 on Tuesday for failing to register eleven exotic cubs and ignoring calls by the veterinary authorities. 

The court was told that Farrugia initially had had three lions, six pumas and two leopards but an inspection in 2019 revealed that he had failed to register 11 cubs.

The law lays down that owners need to inform the authorities of such births within one week and register them within four weeks

The registration fee for each cub is €1000.

An official from the Veterinary Directorate testified that Farrugia had originally applied for a permit to keep exotic animals at his premises in Siġġiewi and Buskett. 

At the time he had three pumas, two leopards and six lions. 

But when the directorate ran a census in 2017, they discovered two other unregistered leopards. 

Two years later, an on-site inspection revealed more dangerous animals. 

It turned out that Farrugia had failed to register eleven cubs. Calls by the directorate to do so went unheeded. 

When delivering judgment on Wednesday, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech observed that the evidence proved that Farrugia had failed to inform the authorities about the newborn cubs and then to register them in terms of law as he was bound to do.

When meting out punishment the court took note of the nature of the charges, the fact that since then the situation was in order and the number of non-registered animals. 

The maximum punishment at the time of commission of the offences was a €55,000 fine or a maximum term of imprisonment of three years. 

Although the accused did not register an admission, he put his act in order pending the proceedings. 

When all was considered the court condemned Farrugia to a €20,000.

Inspector Elliott Magro prosecuted.

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