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Local News


Provided by: Times of Malta

Based on news feeds downloaded at: 30/03/2017 02:35:42

Illegal trapping fueling the fire of the abolitionists - FKNK

The FKNK hunters' federation said today that it would not tolerate or defend those involved in trapping during the closed season, as they were fueling the fire of those who wanted to abolish all trapping. It said such trappers were seriously jeopardising the future of trapping. Those who wanted to see the complete abolition of trapping were using these incidents to impress the European Court of Justice at a time when it was deliberating in the case against Malta instituted by the European Commission, the federation said.
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Airport and elected assembly for Gozo?

The island of Gozo has no airport but has a heliport just outside of Xewkija. Photo:   Chris Sant Fournier

An airport in Gozo would be one way of asserting regional autonomy, as Ryan Mercieca s research on small island regions shows. Every island state Mr Mercieca has analysed with similar characteristics to Malta s shows that autonomy for secondary islands is strengthened through international accessibility by means of an airport. None of the island states I have reviewed have a permanent link between the main and secondary islands, but all have a sea ferry service and an airport, he said. He skirted the environmental controversy this would spark when we met in the aftermath of Gozo Minister Anton Refalo s call last month for a bipartisan approach to a more autonomous Gozo. But Mr Mercieca believes that any decision to have an airport in Gozo should be left to the Gozitans. This would be one aspect of decision making that regional autonomy could bring about, he added. Regional autonomy is the subject of Mr Mercieca s research for his doctoral thesis, Federalism and regionalism of islands and small states in the 21st century, under the tutorship of sociology professor Godfrey Baldacchino. He carried out a comparative analysis of regional autonomy across island states with...
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Security guard called in to patrol amrun school

The problem with unruly students persists at the San   or   Preca School in   amrun. Photo: Steve Zammit Lupi

A security guard has been called in to patrol the former amrun lyceum as the bad behaviour at the school persists. Education Minister Evarist Bartolo told Parliament this week the reception area at the San or Preca School was reorganised, and while it was manned by a messenger, another person trained in security would assist. Earlier this month, the Malta Union of Teachers issued a number of directives to teachers working at the school, often labelled a ghetto , as the situation with unmanageable pupils continued to spiral out of control. The school also made headlines in January after claims that a 32-year-old teacher allowed three boys to abuse a 14-year-old girl. The teacher was questioned by the police and released on bail. No formal charges have been brought against him in court so far. The police are still investigating the claims and other allegations involving another three girls, cases that have allegedly unfolded since the start of the scholastic year. Two male physical education teachers have also been called in to help, assisting the other teachers with replacements, the minister said. He was replying to a parliamentary question from Opposition education...
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EU Brexit negotiations team well prepared - down to cats and dogs

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this evening that was impressed by the preparations made by the EU s Brexit negotiations team, headed by Michel Barnier, whom he met this morning, and the detail they had gone into already. For example, Michel (Barnier) told me 'do you know how many cats and dogs cross from Dover to Calais on the pet passport?'. He said 250,000 and we need to find a solution to this as well." The Brexit negotiations would be tough, Dr Muscat said, but there was a willingness to arrive to a fair solution to everyone, not just one side. The comment was made as Dr Muscat joined EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a public dialogue on the future of Europe. In a sad day for Europe, marked by the triggering of the Brexit process, Mr Juncker was in good humour, joking that he was looking forward to pastizzi and Cisk, paid for by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Mr Juncker and Dr Muscat replied to a range of questions including Brexit, democracy and terrorism, but the humour came out when the president of the Malta Grandparents Association asked Mr Juncker whether he would consider having the EU declare a Day of Grandparents, in recognition for their service...
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Court declares Security Service phone intercepts inadmissible after no authorisation warrants are produced

A court has declared inadmissible phone intercepts by the Security Service after no authorisation warrants were produced. The declaration was made by Magistrate Francesco Depasquale in a criminal case instituted against Noel Xuereb and Pierre Mercieca in relation to a contract for IT services at Mater Dei hospital. In the course of investigations, the police had asked for and obtained recorded telephone calls made and received by the accused. The calls had been intercepted by the Secret Service and the recordings were later presented as evidence in court. However, when pressed by the defence to produce proof of authorisation of such intercepts, the prosecution persistently refused to comply arguing that no-one had the right to question such a practice. The court observed that the Security Services Act makes it obligatory for any telephone intercept or tapping to be authorised by the responsible minister. Failure to show such a ministerial warrant would render the intercept illegal. In this case, no such warrant was produced, the court said, and therefore it could not judge whether the intercepts had been lawfully carried out or not. "No court may allow a state of illegality...
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Mediation service brings together criminals and their victims

A mediation service that will bring together criminals and victims of crime has been set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The service will be offered by the Probation and Parole Department. Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela explained said this was another step towards better victim support and the reintegration into society of those who would have committed a crime. This, he said, would be a voluntary programme conducted by trained officials. Cases would be referred by the Mediation Committee, the courts, the Parole Board, the Offender Assessment Board and the Remissions Board. In this way, victims would be able to explain what they suffered as a result of the crime and whoever committed the crime would be made better aware of the consequences of his actions. Nine Probation Service employees have been trained to offer mediation services. Mediators who serve in court will also be involved.
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Air Malta special offers to coincide with Amitex fair

Air Malta has announced special prices to coincide with the Amitex Holiday Show, opening this weekend at the MFCC. The offer is available to 21 destinations with one-way prices starting at 39 inclusive of taxes and charges. The sale being offered for a travel period between May 1 and December 6. It will run for a week from today to April 5 at 8.59 am. Tickets can be purchased from the airline s website www.airmalta.com, call centre on 21662211, the airline s sales office and travel agents. The offer is also available on lights to/from Amsterdam, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Catania, D sseldorf, Geneva, London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Lyon, Marseille, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris (Orly and Charles de Gaulle), Prague, Rome, Palermo, Vienna and Zurich. Amitex will open tomorrow at 6.30pm until Sunday April 2.
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Scandal-wracked clothing factory's assets put up for sale

A Bulebel-based clothing factory embroiled in a human trafficking and worker exploitation scandal has shut down and its assets have been put up for sale. Leisure Clothing manufactured women s clothing for a range of high-end high street brands including Emporio Armani, Jaeger, Hobbs and Karen Millen. The factory, which had been running for close to 30 years, produced 20,000 garments a month and had a turnover of 5 million. The factory's Chinese parent company, Chong Qing-based CICET, has now tasked UK valuer Eddisons with selling off the facility's assets. These include hundreds of industrial sewing machines, pressing equipment, CNC laying out tables as well as over 5,000 ladies garments, raw material and a fleet of eight vehicles. Eddisons director of machinery and business assets Jason Pinder said the equipment up for grabs was of "extremely high quality" and that the company was "looking for a purchaser for the entire collection or significant parts of it." Leisure Clothing made headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2014 after police raided the factory and accused its director of having exploited hundreds of workers. The investigation led to a magisterial inquiry, with...
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Government launches house-building programme

A project which will see social housing apartments built in 11 localities was started today when workers started excavation works in Zebbu . Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia said eight apartments and semi-basement garages will be built in Zebbu . The works are due for completion early next year. Works will also start shortly on a site in Attard followed by works in Si iewi, urrieq, Kirkop, Naxxar, Cospicua, Msida, Birkirkara, Luqa, and Qrendi. The works will start by June. Dr Farrugia said the government was thus honouring its promise to tackle the problem of social housing.
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Man admits fabricating evidence to frame another person

A man who has had several past brushes with the law was handed a suspended jail sentence and a general interdiction for 20 years today after being found guilty of having fabricated false evidence and testified falsely under oath. Darren Debono, 40, from Marsascala, was accused of having committed the perjury when he appeared before the courts on May 5, 2000, October 21 and 22, 2003. The court heard how Mr Debono had taken a false oath and fabricated false evidence with the intent of implicating a third party in a crime which carried a prison sentence exceeding two years. Magistrate Ian Farrugia noted that not only had Mr Debono pleaded guilty to all the offences as charged, but the accusations had also been sufficiently proven by the documentary evidence presented in court. The accusations were certainly serious and would have warranted an effective prison sentence to serve as a deterrent, the court observed. However, bearing in mind all the circumstances of the case, the court concluded that it was not in the best interests of justice to impose an effective jail term. The court therefore declared the man guilty and handed him a two year jail term suspended for four years. It...
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Coach driver injured

The driver of a private bus was injured this morning when the bus and a truck carrying bricks collided at a bend in Mellieha. The incident happened at about 10.30. The bus was being driven by a 37-year-old from Floriana while a 46-year-old from Xewkija was driving the truck. Photo Justine Byrne - facebook: Times of Malta
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Editor's decision not to publish potentially defamatory right of reply allowed by law

A criminal libel case filed by the Ramblers Association against David Lindsay, editor of the Malta Independent on Sunday, has been dismissed after the court declared that the editor was justified in delaying the publication of a potentially defamatory reply by the association to seek legal advice. The case arose after the Sunday paper failed to publish the ramblers' reply to an article entitled "Whistleblower claims discriminatory and selective campaign linked to Ian Borg which appeared on July 24, 2016. The article reported an interview with Noel Ciantar, a Rabat farmer, whose family got involved in a dispute with the association which had launched a campaign to attack the family's legal rights to cultivate land in is-Simblija, limits of Rabat. Mr Ciantar had alleged that the campaign to gain public access over his family property had been instigated by Ian Borg who was then mayor of Dingli. The court, presided by Magistrate Francesco Depasquale, observed that the Ramblers' Association had sent a reply dated July 28, 2016 to rebut the allegations reported in the article. Although not published in the subsequent two editions of the paper, the reply was eventually reported in...
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Scene of crime officers testify in Mintoff Bland stabbing incident

Yana Mintoff Bland listened attentively today as criminal proceedings against a man charged with stabbing her and her son before setting fire to her house continued. Romanian Gheorghe Popa, 39, Ms Mintoff Bland s former partner allegedly stabbed her and her son before setting fire to her house in Tarxien. Mr Popa sat in the dock assisted by an interpreter, as several witnesses summoned by the prosecution shed further light upon the unfolding of events on that fateful October 24 evening last year. A police officer commissioned to photograph the scene of crime testified that there was great commotion at the Tarxien residence when he arrived at around 11.45pm. Smoke was billowing out of the house and firemen were attempting to put out the blaze. Once the fire had been extinguished, the witness entered the house even though smoke could still be seen. This was against normal safety procedures but he took the risk to make sure that he would capture all evidence on the scene of the crime. The officer recalled how the ground floor of the house was gutted by the fire, which had even led to the partial collapse of the ceiling, rendering a section of the first floor inaccessible. However,...
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Social security spending up by 3.7%

The outlay on social security benefits rose by 32.3 million last year when compared to 2015. The National Statistics Office said social security benefits expenditure amounted to 900.7 million by the end of last year, resulting in a 3.7 per cent increase when compared to 2015. The rise in outlay was due to a 44 million increase in contributory benefits expenditure. Conversely, non-contributory benefits expenditure decreased by 11.7 million. The contributory benefits outlay for 2016 amounted to 712.2 million, a 6.6 per cent increase from 2015. The rise in outlay was mostly due to a 34.4 million increase in pensions in respect of retirement. The main reason behind the decline was due to the one-time child supplementary benefit paid in September 2015, accounting for 7.8 million of the non-contributory outlay for that year. Between October and December 2016, the social security benefits outlay totalled 232.2 million, a 5.4 per cent increase from the same period in 2015. Contributory Benefits expenditure increased by 12.9 million due to an 8.1 million rise in retirement pensions. Non-contributory benefits expenditure dropped by 1.1 million following a 1.4 million decrease...
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Bible-brandishing offender leaves magistrate unimpressed

Last February he had dropped to his knees and apologised profusely to the presiding magistrate, getting off with a suspended sentence. But Yaw Akaadom, 35, was not so lucky when he tried to repeat the scene in court this week. This time round, the Ghanaian man with an Italian residence permit whipped out a Bible from his pocket, fell to his knees and pleaded for clemency just before the court delivered its judgement. Magistrate Joseph Mifsud was not impressed, remarking that although he relished Lenten pageantry, he did not appreciate such scenes in the courtroom. Mr Akadoom was arrested after causing a scene in Valletta on March 17 and refused to obey police orders while allegedly drunk. The man was also accused of having caused the uproar while being drunk in public and while leading an idle and vagrant life. Moreover, he did all this while under the operative period of the suspended sentence delivered in February. Magistrate Mifsud noted that Mr Akaadom was a relapser who just over a month ago had been involved in a similar tussle with the forces of law and order in St Joseph High Street, amrun. While acquitting the man of the charge of violent resistance to arrest, the...
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Watch: EU 'will fail' unless populism is tackled, warns Busuttil

Brexit was the result of populism and the European Union could fail unless it dealt with rising populist sentiment, Simon Busuttil said this afternoon.The Nationalist Party leader was speaking at a press conference during the European People s Party congress, which is being held in Malta today and tomorrow. READ: The Brexit process is now underway This is the first time that the EPP congress is taking place in Malta, and the event, according to Dr Busuttil, was being held in interesting times for Europe, and also for Malta, ahead of the general election.Dr Busuttil noted that the triggering of Article 50, which will kick off the Brexit process, required a significant reflection not only on the part of the EU, but also the UK itself, especially following the Scottish parliament s vote for a second referendum. Brexit is the result of populism, but populism is not limited to the UK. Populism is rearing its head everywhere - in Europe and beyond. Unless we deal head-on with populism, the EU will fail, he said. READ: 'Day one of a difficult road', says EU's Brexit negotiator Populists, he noted, often spoke about problems but did not offer any solutions.On the other hand, we...
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Repeat offender will spend next two years behind bars

A man who has had several brushes with the law over the past six months will be spending the next two years behind bars after he was found guilty of a number of attempted thefts from vehicles. Mohamed Mokhtar Mohamed Jamhur, 25, Tripoli-born and residing in Valletta, was arraigned last Friday just hours after his arrest near the Floriana health centre. The court, presided by magistrate Joseph Mifsud, heard how at around 3.45am the police were tipped-off via an anonymous call that someone was trying to break into vehicles parked along the Granaries. Converging onto the scene, police had discovered two vehicles with clear signs of attempted break in. Another car parked in Mediterranean Road, Valletta had likewise been targeted. The court observed that last November, Mr Jamhur had been given a suspended sentence following his conviction for a crime of passion when he had stabbed his wife's lover. Later in February, the operative period of that suspended sentence was extended following Mr Jamhur's admission to complicity in a series of attempted thefts from vehicles in Valletta. Magistrate Mifsud remarked that although all foreign nationals were welcome to Malta, they ought not to...
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Watch: Car falls two storeys at MCP car park

Updated 3.34pm A Belgian man was hospitalised this morning after the car he was driving fell from a height of two storeys as he was reversing at the MCP in Floriana. The Peugeot 2008 rental car was considerably damaged as a result of the fall, and the 28-year-old driver was taken to Mater Dei hospital, where doctors confirmed he had only suffered slight injuries in the incident. The vehicle crashed down from the car park's level -4 to level -6, with sources saying the car had fallen after the driver confused gears and inadvertently reversed the car. No other cars were hit but the police and members of the Civil Protection Department moved nearby cars around following the accident. And as the scene quietened down, the owner of one of the parked cars, with a confused look on her face, walked up to police to ask where her car had gone.
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Brexit chief negotiator: 'This is day one of a very difficult road'

Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier this morning described the UK's decision to formally file a request to leave the EU as "day one of a very difficult road" for both parties.Commissioner Barnier made these remarks during the opening exchanges of a meeting at Castille with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was accompanied by EU Affairs Minister Louis Grech.The meeting, which was only open to the media for the first few minutes, took place a few hours before EU Council President Donald Tusk was set to receive the UK's formal request to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, kicking off the two-year exit negotiations. READ: Britain set to trigger Article 50 today Describing it as a "key moment" for the EU, Commissioner Barnier spoke on the need to reach a "fair agreement" not only on the Brexit issue but also for the long-term future of the EU itself. On his part, Dr Muscat reiterated his view that any fair deal had to nevertheless be inferior to membership. He said that once the process would be officially triggered, Malta, as EU Council president, would be delivering the official Brexit negotiations guidelines to Commissioner Barnier within 48 hours. Dr Muscat pointed out...
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Visit Fort St Angelo for just 2 on Freedom Day

Fort St Angelo will open for a reduced price of 2 on March 31, Freedom Day, and the opening times will be extended by an hour, Heritage Malta said. This will give regatta enthusiasts the opportunity to follow the races from the fort s impressive bastions. The regatta is a traditional rowing event held twice yearly in the Grand Harbour. The programme starts at 1pm. Rowers participate in 10 races under two categories using typical traditional Maltese boats such as frejgatini, kajjikki, dg ajjes tal-pass and tal-midalji. Visitors to the fort will have the opportunity to visit the upper part,... This article is part of our premium content. Full story is available on Times of Malta Premium.
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