Christian Gauci, 27 of Mellieha, a hooded hunter arrested at the Natura 2000 nature reserve in Mellieha, was today fined €4,658 by the Magistrates' Court.

He was also banned from hunting for three years and had his gun confiscated. 

In handing down judgement, Magistrate Giovanni Griscti observed that the accused had already twice been convicted of hunting-related offences. He said the fact he was hooded and hunting in a nature reserve meant for the public's recreation could have translated into a prison term, but the court had instead opted for the maximum fine after the submissions of the prosecution and the defence.

Mr Gauci and Carl Borg, 30, also of Mellieha, were arraigned yesterday after they were filmed by a BBC crew and Birdlife volunteers on Thursday.

The two were accused of having hunted illegally on Thursday afternoon. They were also accused of being in possession of loaded shotguns and being hooded.

Carl Borg pleaded not guilty. He pleaded he was not hunting within the confines of the reserve.

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