Maltese man avoids jail after killing four flamingos


A court of appeal in Malta has spared 24-year-old poacher Miguel Zammit a prison sentence after he was charged with shooting four Greater Flamingos.

The decision was based on a ruling that the species is not endangered, although it is protected by law.

Miguel Zammit now has a suspended sentence after a court of appeal hearing weakened his punishment (Malta Police Force).

Zammit was arrested near Qawra Point in October 2021 after a witness saw the flamingos being shot and made a report to the police. He insisted that he was aiming at a duck but was sentenced to a year in prison and a lifetime ban on holding a hunting license.

The appeal hearing led by judge Neville Camilleri on 27 March confirmed that Zammit was clearly responsible for the deaths of the flamingos but based its softening of the punishment on the Least Concern status of Greater Flamingo on the IUCN Red List.

It was emphasised that Zammit would be forced to serve time if he committed another crime during the period of his now suspended sentence. The court confirmed that the lifetime ban on hunting still applied.

Mark Sultana, Chief Executive of BirdLife Malta, said: "While one can debate if a jail term was just or not, the reasoning the court gave today is rather baffling.

"A protected bird is protected irrespective of its status and just because it is not at risk of being extinct, does not mean that its protection, or the consequences of illegally killing it, should be less.

"I fail to see the logic. It's like saying that stealing from a rich person carries a lesser punishment than if you steal from a poor person."