NICOSIA - A local conservationist orgsanisation on Tuesday applauded a new court decision that found a Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) activist innocent of trespassing into private property with the aim of conducting malicious damage.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, BirdLife Cyprus official Tassos Shialis described the Famagusta District Court’s ruling – the second in two months to vindicate anti-trapping efforts – as “a move in the right direction”.
“This is the second recent court decision that has dismissed accusations against an anti-bird trapping activist. It is most definitely a victory for conservation on the island as it sends the clear message a zero-tolerance policy towards bird trapping is being enforced by the authorities.”
The case was filed on April 23, 2013 by a man from Paralimni.
The complainant argued that the previous day two CABS activists - a man and a woman - trespassed into his orchard in the Laxia area and deliberately set free 30 chickens from his aviary costing him damages worth €300.
Speaking to the media after the trial, CABS Field Investigations Officer Andrea Rutigliano said she welcomed the court decision which judged that the complainant’s claims were ill-founded, while at the same time questioning the credibility of the accusations.
“We are happy that we were eventually found innocent by the Famagusta District Court and environmental justice is served.”
Commenting on the case, policy adviser of the two environmental organisations on bird poaching in Cyprus Klitos Papastylianou said that during the past few years CABS members have faced physical attacks, verbal abuse and beatings by poachers, while also having been accused and slandered by politicians and the songbird poachers’ lobby.
“In every single case, CABS and the Foundation Pro Biodiversity (SPA) SPA have been asked by the responsible officials to answer to and officially publicise any evidence that they may have had in order to support their ludicrous accusations,” said Papastylianou.
“In none of these cases have any criminal offences been established by the Cyprus Police.”
CABS also sought to remind that in autumn 2012 the complainant in the recent case was convicted by the Famagusta District Court for the illegal possession of 30 protected wild birds in two aviaries and ordered to pay a fine of €650.
One of the CABS members who was found innocent by the court on Friday was the same activist who located the two illegal aviaries and reported the case to the police.