A 23-year-old hunter from Gżira has been charged with shooting four protected birds dead.

Miguel Zammit, who pleaded not guilty to charges, was remanded in custody after a court turned down his request for bail.

Zammit was arrested on Saturday morning after witnesses told the police they saw him shoot down four flamingos over Qawra.

Prosecutors told the court that police who arrived at the scene found Zammit with a firearm and ammunition. In a statement earlier on Saturday, the police said that three of the dead birds were found at sea, with the fourth discovered on the shore.

The four dead flamingos found at the scene. Photo: Malta PoliceThe four dead flamingos found at the scene. Photo: Malta Police

Zammit’s lawyers made a request for him to be released from custody, arguing that the fact that their client had remained on site when the police arrived showed that he was not going to tamper with the judicial process.

But the prosecution objected to the request, saying this was a clear case of poaching and that the accused could not have shot at the protected birds in error.

Magistrate Elaine Mercieca turned down the bail request and ordered that Zammit be remanded in custody.

Flamingos are protected birds and shooting or trapping them is a crime. First-time offenders face anything from a €5,000 fine to one-year jail term, as well as disqualification of their licence. Repeat offenders can be jailed for two years. 

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