Spanish lawyer paid €111,000 to defend Malta’s EU bird trapping case

The government has hired a top Spanish lawyer, who used to work at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), to form part of its legal team defending a very difficult case started against the island by the EU on illegal bird trapping.

While the government, through Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri – a hunter – is refusing to say why and how the Spanish expert has been incorporated into its defence team, the initial costs related to the services of Professor Daniel Sarmiento have already cost taxpayers €111,000, according to direct orders information published in the Government Gazette.

The Shift asked the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, John Borg, for information on the role and other costs, but he did not respond.

A Freedom of Information request filed by The Shift for his contract, given through a direct order, has been refused.

Sources told The Shift that Sarmiento’s name was recommended to the minister by the hunting lobby due to his experience in trying to overrule EU Court of Justice cases.

Considered a top lawyer in the area of EU law, Professor Sarmiento teaches Administrative and European Union Law at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Before that, he spent several years as an official of the European Court of Justice, including as an assistant to the Advocate General.

What is the case about?

According to EU rules, Malta should have outlawed trapping when it became a member state in 2004.

However, due to intense pressure from the hunters’ lobby, governments have consistently tried to appease them by finding new ways to bypass EU rules and allow trappers to continue trapping birds.

In 2018, Malta was ordered to stop trapping after an EU court case, as it defied the Birds Directive.

But in a bid to circumvent the rules again, the Labour government decided to challenge the Birds Directive through a derogation. Under this derogation, Malta continued to allow trapping, arguing that birds were to be captured for “research purposes”.

The EU did not take the bait and in 2023, it started another court case against Malta, accusing the island of breaching the Birds Directive again.

The case is expected to be heard next month.

                           

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18 Comments
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makjavel
makjavel
2 months ago

Maltese Lawyers should take this as a vote of no confidence and thrust by Abela and his government.

Reality
Reality
2 months ago

Corruption is the backbone of power.

D. Borg
D. Borg
2 months ago

so this joke of a government we’ve lumped ourselves with, is not only allowing the hunting fraternity to appropriate avian fauna and the public countryside, it is also abusively using OUR taxes to continue to appease this egoistic lobby.

Joanna Borg
Joanna Borg
2 months ago
Reply to  D. Borg

Squandering money that should be directed to protecting the environment not destroying it. Trapping not only kills the birds (eventually) but renders the land barren of all life and traps unsuspecting creatures like hedgehogs too.

J. Degabriele
J. Degabriele
2 months ago

What a waste of money! Throwing so much money to continue to massacre birds!

Ronnie Farrugia
Ronnie Farrugia
2 months ago
Reply to  J. Degabriele

The waste of money started because Fenech Adami and Pullicino lied to all maltese citezens (before entering the EU) that trapping is not going to be effected because it was a tradition from the time of the appostles. They even sent letters signed not photocopied stressing so. Nets are mentioned in the bible, guns no. Moreover the referendum was won by the trappers lobby. So it is concluded tha referendums are worth nothing. Now I think . Also Fenech Adami sent Saviour Balzan tthat trappers have every right to defend their pastimes which were robbed from them by fraud.

Colonel Gaddafi
Colonel Gaddafi
1 month ago

Are you for real, Ronnie? Appostles, bible? Unfortunately, there is no remedy against people who are allergic to thinking…

Emanuel Curmi
Emanuel Curmi
1 month ago

Dear Mr Farrugia, here is a summary of the published EU Accession Treaty obligations relating to hunting and trapping.

Before joining the EU, Malta negotiated a transition period (until the end of 2008) for the trapping of several species of finch. “Transition periods” refer to periods during which member states do not need to comply with all EU laws, but during which they should gradually phase out practices that are banned under EU law.
However, Malta never negotiated any form of transition period for spring hunting, or trapping of Turtle Dove and Quail. Trapping of finches is also not allowed during spring

If you bothered to read it (or you could have asked someone to read it for you) it was plain to all what the EU referendum vote was about. You are indignant about Turtle dove hunting referendum not being respected and yet Nassaba lobby is doing exactly that to the Malta’s EU accession process.

FXG
FXG
2 months ago

L onesta ma hawnx prezz ghalija. Ghaliex ma tkunux onesti u tghidu li biex sirna membri shah fl’ EU il PM EFA u segretarju generali tal PN ta dakinhar Dr Gonzi baghtu dokument iffirmat mit tnejn lil kull deletant fejn qalu li l kacca u l insib se jibqghu jigu pratikati minghajr ebda caqlieq fil ligijiet.
Allura dawn is sinjuri li kkomentaw fuq din pagna ghandhom ikunu onesti u jghidu li ahna l kaccaturi u nassaba gejna ngannati mil gvern ta dakinhar biex jirbah ir referendum u nissiehbu fil club tal EU.
Ghandu ragun il poplu ma jafdax lil PN fil gvern ghax kif jgjidu l inglizi’ once bitten twice shy’.

Marjo
Marjo
2 months ago
Reply to  FXG

Ahna li m’ahniex kaccaturi u nassaba gejna ingannati minn dan il-poxt ta gvern li qed iberbaq flus il-poplu biex izomm kuntenti qabda qattiela! U xi nghidu ghal-lobby tal-kaccaturi li jigi jitnejku minn kollox u minn kulhadd! Jekk il-gvern irid jiddefedikom, ohorguhom intom il-flus mhux jehel kulhadd.

Katen
Katen
2 months ago

We as a tax payers should be able to have a voice too because we are the ones who literally against our will agreeing on this brutality…

Emanuel Curmi
Emanuel Curmi
1 month ago
Reply to  Katen

Absolutely right. So why do you vote to forfeit that right?
Something to think about next time you walk in a voting poll 😉

Robert Debono
Robert Debono
2 months ago

Rightly so. This government is rightly defending what EFA and his bunch of liars promised in writing to the maltese trappers (and hunters) in 2003 , in the run up to the EU accession referendum,which after resulted in being a big while treason just to steal their yes votes.

Charles Falzon, Sliema
Charles Falzon, Sliema
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Debono

Correct, however, two wrongs do not add up to one right. Hunting and trapping should be banned.

Colonel Gaddafi
Colonel Gaddafi
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Debono

Times change, Habib! Besides, only brain amputated Gahans would believe the politician’s promises and lies…

Joey Falzon
Joey Falzon
2 months ago

Why shouldn’t the hunting lobby foot this bill just to employ this lawyer to defend the seasonal massacre of birds? I am no hunter and I STRONGLY oppose the use of my taxes for this purpose!!!!

Alfred
Alfred
2 months ago

No problem the birds will be paying.

Marjo
Marjo
2 months ago
Reply to  Alfred

They are always the ones who pay ….. With their lives.

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