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Update 2: Libyan arrested for cruelty to birds, another escapes

200 canaries found hidden in his luggage

Video: Paul Spiteri Lucas, Mark Zammit Cordina

A Libyan man has been arrested at the airport while trying to export some 200 canaries. Another abandoned his luggage and managed to run out of the airport.

The birds were found hidden in luggage. They had been sedated using lighter gas, but many of them were dead.

The discovery was made when suspicion was aroused during check-in before a flight to Tripoli. Officers from the Animal Welfare Department were immediately called to the scene.

A similar discovery was made last week when canaries were found hidden in a Libyan man's jacket and in his bag as he tried to smuggle them out on a flight to Tripoli.

The Director of the Animal Welfare Department, Mario Spiteri, said the arrested Libyan would be accused of animal cruelty.

It was quite clear, he said, that there was a racket of bird exports, with canaries fetching a good price in Libya. Canaries were not protected birds, he said, and they could be legally bought in Malta and exported, but procedures had to be followed for the proper care of the birds.

What was happening, he said, was that Libyan men were ordering and buying canaries in bulk from pet shops in Malta and then trying to export them. There was no regard to the welfare of the birds, which were hidden in luggage, jackets, pockets and socks. Many of them died.

MORE BIRDS FOUND

Informed sources said another 60 birds were found at the airport this afternoon. They were in a black bag along with other items including peas. Some of the birds were dead.

The surviving birds from the two consignments are to be cared for an Ghammieri government farm.

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