|In footage captured on July 13, the accused slams the cat into the ground.|
By Park Si-soo
In a rare tough punishment for animal abuse, a South Korean court has imprisoned a man in his 30s accused of killing the pet cat of his neighbor in July.
Seoul Western District Court on Thursday sentenced the man, 39, identified only by his surname Jung, to six months' prison for violating the Animal Protection Act. He was taken to prison after the ruling.
"The way the crime took place was extremely cruel and it's hard to find the attitude of respect for the dignity of life with the accused," said Judge Yoo Chang-hoon in the ruling. "He killed the cat that did no harm to him only because he had repulsion toward cats."
The judge said he had considered "the extreme psychological pain the cat's owner has been suffering, no forgiveness from the owner and public outrage driven by the crime" in determining the sentence.
|In footage captured on July 13, the accused pours an unidentified liquid onto the body of the cat he killed for no reason.|
The man was accused of killing the cat by slamming it to the ground several times in Mapo, Seoul, on July 13. The incident happened after the cat refused to eat food mixed with detergent, which the man had brought from his home. Surveillance camera footage captured the moment.
At a previous hearing, the accused admitted the killing but claimed it was an "accident" ― not a premeditated crime ― driven by his chronic repulsion toward cats, developed by stray cats that surprised or bit him frequently.
Prosecutors sought an 18-month jail term.
Animal rights advocates hailed the ruling, saying it set a meaningful precedent that animal abusers can be punishment by imprisonment, not merely fines as in past cases.