Case against BirdLife staff member dropped by the prosecution
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BirdLife Malta said in a statement this afternoon that criminal charges against BirdLife Malta staff member Caroline Rance were dropped today “as the Magistrate heard she was falsely accused, with email showing name passed to the police by FKNK lawyer.”
Ms Rance, appearing alongside colleague Nicholas Barbara and Fiona Burrows of CABS, was charged with possession of protected birds in connection with a photograph of BirdLife Malta staff and volunteers holding birds which had been illegally shot.
BLM said that the photo was released by BirdLife in October 2012 in an effort to highlight the impact of illegal hunting on protected migrated birds.
However, in the second hearing of the case today, defence lawyer Steve Tonna Lowell revealed that Ms Rance was not in the photo in question. BLM stated that, “at the time the photograph was taken, she was neither working for the organisation or living in Malta.”
In a statement following the court hearing, Ms Rance said “I am obviously happy that the case against me has been dropped, however I would still like to know how my name was included in the first place.”
BLM said that “standing as witnesses, Lino Farrugia and Joe Perici Calascione of the FKNK could only identify one of the accused, Nicholas Barbara, as being in the photograph. Dr Tonna Lowell pressed them on how Caroline Rance came to be identified as one of the persons in the photo.”
BLM stated that Magistrate Vella was then shown an email, sent to the Police by Kathleen Grima, lawyer for FKNK, in which Caroline Rance was named as one of those in the photo.
“The email seen by the court shows that FKNK’s lawyer gave my name to the police. So from whom was she receiving her instructions? This seems like yet another case of bullying and intimidation by the FKNK to try and stop BirdLife from carrying out its work,” added Ms Rance.
The case against Nicholas Barbara and Fiona Burrows continues on the 18th of February.
The Photograph in question, issued by BirdLife Malta in October 2012