A lifelong member of Birdlife facing prosecution for trespassing on private land and exercising a pretended right after accompanying a BBC crew during the shooting of an anti-hunting documentary in Miżieb, has been cleared of all charges on lack of evidence.
Nimrod Mifsud, 32, from Gżira, has been at the centre of judicial proceedings since 2014 when the April expedition to Miżieb in the company of BBC presenter Chris Packham and the TV team on a mission to film the documentary ‘Massacre on Migration’, ended on a negative note.
Setting out from the heritage trail at Miżieb on April 23, the crew, accompanied by Mr Mifsud and two journalists, followed the path leading to the garigue and woodland. At no time did they open any gate or scale any wall to trespass over private land, Mr Mifsud had testified in court.
However, upon returning two days later, the crew were met with a different scenario. One hunter menacingly warning Mr Packham not to film, had shouted "Don't shoot! Don't shoot! You're provoking me!" The whole episode had been captured on video and had made the media rounds.
Police had intervened to defuse the argument and to accompany the filming party away from the land which, hunters regard as a hunting reserve by virtue of an agreement dating back to 1986. FKNK insists that this agreement, signed with then Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, had granted the hunters' lobby the right to administer this land at Miżieb and l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa.
During the hearing of the case, Magistrate Charmaine Galea had heard Lino Farrugia, the chief executive officer of the FKNK explain that by virtue of this agreement the land had been reserved exclusively for use by hunters during the open season.
Mr Farrugia had said that the agreement had been confirmed in October 1989 through the endorsement given by then deputy Prime Minister Guido de Marco.
However, in its judgment today, the court observed that all evidence failed to prove that the accused had somehow “interfered with their possession or interfered with their belongings.”
The prosecution failed to prove that the two hunters involved in the incident, Kenneth Sciberras and Robert Booker had exclusive possession of the dirt track where the accused was walking. Moreover, there was no proof that Mr Mifsud had been filming or conducting any interviews. “He was simply accompanying a foreign camera crew,” the court concluded.
His mere presence on the dirt track did not prove that he was dispossessing the two hunters, the court observed.
Moreover, the prosecution had failed to exhibit a detailed site plan outlining the area targeted by the 1986 agreement which had purportedly given the hunters exclusive rights over the zone during the hunting season.
Therefore, the offence of trespassing had not been “conclusively proven” declared the magistrate, pronouncing an acquittal.
Inspector Nikolai Sant prosecuted. Lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell was defence counsel. Lawyer Kathleen Grima appeared as parte civile for FKNK.
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