CHANGWON, Aug. 11 (Korea Bizwire) – A man who butchered some 600 stray cats received a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison with two years of probation and 80 hours of community service at his appeal trial, meaning that he won’t have to spend any time in jail.
Only identified as Jung, the 56-year-old man captured around 600 stray cats using baited cage traps in Busan and across South Gyeongsang Province from February 2014 to May 2015. To make matters worse, he butchered the majority of the cats (at least half, as noted by prosecutors during the appeal) by drowning them in boiling water. The cats were then frozen and kept either for his own consumption or sold to businesses that provide cat meat, including those that weren’t slaughtered.
According to the prosecutors, each cat was sold for 15,000 won ($13).
Jung’s gruesome crimes against the abandoned animals were unveiled by Animal Farm, a TV program that focuses on animal life and affairs, sometimes as dreadful as Jung’s case. The program decided to investigate the issue in 2014 after a request from the Korean Society for Animal Freedom (KSAF), which had received multiple reports of stray cats going missing in the Gyeongsang region.
The program’s investigation was broadcast in December 2014, and although producers couldn’t track down Jung at the time, the TV show clearly indicated that there was indeed someone, or an organized business, capturing stray cats to supply the handful of restaurants that still sell what they call ‘cat soup’.
A police investigation swiftly followed, and after months of relentless pursuit, Jung was finally caught in May last year.
He was found guilty of violating animal protection laws at his first trial in April, and was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment with two years of probation and 80 hours of community service, the same sentencing he would later receive at his appeal.
The court’s lenient verdict has enraged many animal rights activists across the country.
“Sentencing a criminal who massacred hundreds of animals through the most gruesome means to probation is not in line with the sentiments of the general public,” said the groups following the first trial. “The prosecutors need to appeal such lax punishment.”
However, Jung was sentenced to the same verdict in his second trial on Wednesday.
The court said that although it acknowledges Jung’s gruesome killings of the animals clearly violated the animal protection law, the actions were to support his livelihood and not because of contempt for living animals. It further added that taking into consideration his pledge not to slaughter animals any further, it decided to give Jung a suspended sentence.
Those violating the animal rights law, including animal cruelty, are currently subject to a maximum of one year imprisonment or 10 million won in fines.
According to government and animal organization data, there are an estimated 1 million stray cats across Korea, with 20,000 to 30,000 cats being abandoned by their owners every year.
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)