The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Olive trees stolen from leased land in Aħrax, owner claims it is hunters’ doing

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 14 January 2021, 15:47 Last update: about 7 days ago

11 olive trees and a small niche dedicated to Our Lady were stolen from leased land in Aħrax overnight, owner Joseph Scicluna said in a video, as he claimed that it was a certain group of hunters’ doing. 

During the early hours of Thursday morning, Scicluna released a video on his Facebook profile showing himself in a distressed state after finding out that 11 olive trees, costing €25 each, and a small niche were stolen from land he leases from the government at Aħrax. 

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“I found everything broken and stolen. I cannot take it anymore, I am crying and shaking. Why are you doing this?” he exclaimed.

He claimed that he knew who the culprits were very well, saying that they are hunters who have said that he does not have a right to the land – “there was a person who told me that he will not let him work in the field but I will not mention any names.” 

In a series of subsequent videos Scicluna displayed the damage that was done to the area, showing holes where the trees used to be, broken fake surveillance cameras and a gate that was busted open and broken from its hinges. 

He explained that that he has not taken any land from anyone as the land is under his name with documentation to prove it and that he has never chased anyone off of this land, which is public, even if they were hunters and trappers. 

“I put the gate there so that no cars drive into the areas and the wall surrounding the area is only 2 feet long so it does not block access to it, as you (the culprits) very well know since you had no problem crossing over it.” 

The videos show his children replanting olive trees replacing the one’s that they had planted the first time with Scicluna saying that he will keep replanting trees as it is his right to do so. 

“I am not doing this because of the money or because my children where the ones to plant them, I am only showing you the types of people we have in this country,” he said, adding that he has filed a police report. 

In his most recent video, he thanked the thousands of people who came to support him, saying that anyone has a right to go and plant olive trees there. He added that Infrastructure Malta contacted him directly saying that they it be reimbursing the 11 trees that were stolen. 

Scicluna remarked that he is the only one in the area who has experienced this kind of bullying from the alleged hunters who have threatened his land. 

“Everyone has their own hobby but you cannot use your hobby to hinder mine!” 

Mellieħa councillor and PN candidate Ivan Castillo, who Scicluna confided in for help when faced with this issue, condemned this act of vandalism, saying that "vandalism is never acceptable and no one should ever resort to it."

Aħrax, alongside Miżieb, has faced a lot of controversy during 2020 after it was placed under the hunter’s lobby in an agreement with the government which was signed behind closed doors.

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