Youth denies in Court of killing protected eagle

23-year old Justin Chetcuti was released from custody after he was accused in Court of hunting a protected eagle.

Inspector Pierguido Saliba recounted that on Wednesday at around 9.15 am an eagle was shot down on two hills where at the moment there were two Birdlife officials. They filmed on video the hunter shooting the eagle and when they told him they will search in a van, he told them not to do so.

The Police saw cartridges thrown away at the site and analysis showed that the cartridge had a bigger shot than is capable, and was fired at a higher than average distance in the air where shooting is carried out on birds of prey, such as the eagle.

Police investigations resulted that there was no one else at the place not even in the area and civilians confirmed the evidence that no one else was in sight, except the accused.

While the defence requested the release from custody, the prosecution objected with the Inspector saying that witnesses are volunteers who may be influenced not to testify if the accused is released from custody. He added that during the interrogation, the youth showed animosity towards the Birdlife officials.

The defence lawyer argued that the accused does not even know who the Birdlife people are, despite what the inspector said that the youth was seen in the video near the officials.

The Police said that when faced with clear evidence, the accused denied his involvement in the case.

Magistrate Monica Vella upheld the request for his release from custody with various conditions, including that he stays indoors after ten in the evening and was requested to make a personal guarantee of €10,000. The Court also warned him that if he breaches the conditions he will be fined €12,000 and sent strait to prison.