from The Malta Independent, December 21, 2001
Record fine for illegally importing protected birds
By Steve Chetcuti
A record fine was yesterday handed down to a Kirkop man found Guilty of importing 51 animal skins
three years ago.
Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona fined Jesmond Grixti, 32, Lm 1,036 after he was found in possession
of the bird skins at Malta International Airport on 9 February 1998.
Grixti had just returned from a hunting trip
with five other men in Egypt. The bird skins all came from protected species and included a barbary falcon, an endangered
He was accused of breaching regulations which fall under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Flora and Fauna (Cites).
The accused had tried to import the bird skins stuffed in a massive teddy bear
but customs officials became suspicious and passed the soft toy through the x-ray machine.
The officials noticed
that the stuffing in the toy was not uniform and further checks revealed the dead birds, which had been wrapped in carbon
paper to try and avoid x-ray detection.
The dead birds included herons, egrets, white storks, birds of pray, owls,
kingfishers and bee eaters. The customs officials also carried out a search in Grixti's bag and found a mongoose, an endangered
Investigations were headed by police inspectors Walter Spiteri and Alex Miruzzi, customs officers and officials
from the Environment Protection Department.
Grixti was one of 24 people who were yesterday found Guilty of breaching
hunting and trapping regulations. The other 23 were fined Lm 1,160 between them.