Suspected of having killed a cat, a septuagenarian finds himself in court

His name was Nelson. A half-Burmese, half-Siamese white cat. He will be at the center of a trial to be held on Tuesday at the Arras Criminal Court, in Pas-de-Calais. The animal was shot down in March, with a gunshot, on a Sunday afternoon. A 71-year-old suspect, the neighbor of the owners of the cat, will have to explain his gesture, which he recognized in front of the gendarmes.

With the new law on acts of cruelty to domestic animals, the penalties incurred have increased. Since December 2021, article 521-1 of the Penal Code provides for five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros “when the facts have led to the death of the animal”. This is one of the first trials to open under the aegis of this legislation.

“I heard the angry neighbor, then a gunshot”

The business takes place in a small village of 400 inhabitants, near Arras. A couple in their fifties founded their home there 32 years ago. “When our last child left, we wanted to buy a cat to keep us company”, says the husband to 20 minutes. Nothing more banal.

But the little ball of fur proves to be oversized affection. “We bought him as a baby. We had a very strong relationship with this very cuddly cat who behaved like a dog, ”continues the owner who had fenced his garden to prevent him from running away.

“He wasn’t jumping but he was digging,” he explains. Until the day when Nelson managed to get to the other side of the fence. “I heard the angry neighbor, then a shot. I understood what had happened. The animal is found lying in the grass, dead dead. He was four years old.

Indiscriminate violence against pets

Complaint is lodged with the gendarmerie which does not take long to apprehend the neighbor, suspected of having fired. A first trial is scheduled for May, but it will be postponed. For the couple devastated by the loss of this companion, “this trial must serve as a lesson to dissuade anyone from doing so much harm for free”.

“This case is symptomatic of the blind violence of some people towards pets, which are living beings endowed with sensitivity, which are an integral part of a family. Nelson’s masters are in great pain, ”insists the victims’ lawyer, Me Isabelle Terrin.

“Stop minimizing the facts”

This activist for the animal cause within her association “Animal Defense and Dignity” sees, in this trial, the beginning of a new judicial era. “Citizen sensitivity regarding animal suffering has awakened. The popular will wants us to do justice to the animals,” she notes. And to underline that in 2021, “two imprisonments had been pronounced for convicted repeat offenders” and “two similar cases pleaded in Niort and Poitiers had cost more than 10,000 euros for each culprit”.

In this case, she claims 2,500 euros for emotional damage and that the respondent is removed from custody of his animals. “I know this person won’t go to jail, but they need to understand the harm they’ve done and stop minimizing the facts. »

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