On Tuesday, a French court found the country’s national railway operator guilty on charges of negligence after a train driver allegedly deliberately ran over a cat that was hiding on the train tracks.
The incident took place at Paris’s Montparnasse station in January. It caused great controversy and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was “extremely shocked” by the incident.
The Brigitte Bardot Foundation, an animal rights organization, wanted to know from the railway operator SNCF: “Aren’t you ashamed?”
Passengers Georgia and her 15-year-old daughter Melaina said their pet Neko (which means “cat” in Japanese) escaped from its travel bag and disappeared under an express train just as the train was about to leave Paris for Bordeaux, in southwestern France. . A total of 800 passengers were on board.
The staff struggled for 20 minutes in vain to lure the cat to save him. The train left after that and the cat died.
“We saw how he was cut in half,” Melaina told the animal rights organization 30 Million Friends at the time. “They said it was not their problem; it’s just a cat and we should have had him on a leash.”
SNCF offered a free ticket to Bordeaux for the cat’s owners as compensation.
However, the animal rights association filed a complaint for “serious abuse and cruelty that led to the death of an animal”.
The charge can result in a fine of up to €75 000 (more than R1.5 million) with five years in prison, but in this case the court in Paris fined SNCF €1 000 (about R20 000) for ” negligence” and said the pet’s death was “involuntarily” caused.
The verdict is contrary to the recommendation of state prosecutors who requested that the operator be acquitted.
SNCF’s travel agency was ordered to pay a further €1,000 in damages to each of the pet’s two owners.
After the incident, Darmanin announced that police officers in 4,000 stations across the country would be trained to respond to animal abuse.