Four French youths have been handed a suspended six-month jail term and a fine of €700 each after admitting in court to having damaged a former British services rock-cut gun post by lighting a fire while camping at the Majjistral Park on Tuesday night.
Fanny Florence Marie Thubault, 21, Margaux Camille Averseng, 21, Lea Mathilde Pages, 22 and Sarah Jeanne Melody Morand-Schmitz, 20, were taken to court on Thursday morning and accused of damaging items of cultural heritage through negligence and wilfully damaging third party property, with damages exceeding €250 but not €2500.
They were also accused of uprooting a protected plant, camping at a spot that fell outside the approved camping zones as well as lighting a campfire without the authorisation of park rangers.
A ranger from the Majjistral Nature and History Park came across the four early on Wednesday morning after they started an open fire on the cliff top structure.
The group used Mediterranean Thyme, a locally protected plant species, to start the fire.
During their arraignment, Inspector Christina Delia explained that the youths had not been aware of the illegality of such behaviour. They had fully cooperated with police and moreover, the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage had assessed the resulting damage as being minimal.
In view of such circumstances, the prosecution suggested a suspended sentence.
Legal aid counsel, Martha Mifsud, pointed out that the youths had foolishly damaged the historic structure after lighting a fire “to roast marshmallows,” and the incident had served to teach them a lesson.
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