Animal rights campaigners yesterday criticized judges for not imposing a harsher punishment on cat killer Chan Ho-yeung (陳皓揚), who was handed a 10-month jail sentence which can be commuted to a fine.
The Taipei District Court on Thursday found the 24-year-old student from Macau guilty of violating the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) for strangling to death two cats, handing him a 10-month jail sentence and a fine of NT$350,000.
It was the first ruling in the case and it can be appealed.
Chan was convicted of strangling a popular stray cat named “Big Orange” in December last year and another cat, “Ban Ban,” in August.
Chan, a former graduate student at National Taiwan University’s Department of Chemical Engineering, admitted his guilt during the trial, telling the judges: “I have a psychological problem and I could not control the compulsion to kill a cat.”
He requested a lenient sentence, saying that he had learned his lesson.
Animal rights advocates were upset at the court handing down what they described as a lenient punishment, as Chan can pay a NT$600,000 fine in lieu of the 10-month jail sentence.
“How can he learn any lesson, or learn to respect life with a jail term of just a few months?” one netizen wrote.
“Our justice system still treats animals as objects and not as precious lives,” another netizen wrote.
Others called for the prosecutors to appeal the ruling, in the hope that Chan would receive a stiffer punishment and have to serve time in prison.
Wang Hsien-ju (王嫻如), a university lecturer who fed and cared for “Big Orange,” said she was disappointed with the ruling and questioned the fine.
“The lives of those two cats can never be returned. Can a life be brought back by paying money? Any life is important and neither cat was willing to lose its life,” Wang said.
When Wang testified at the trial she had insisted on referring to “Big Orange” as an individual, and not a mere pet.
Lawyer Lu Chiu-yuan (呂秋遠) said he would like to see the Animal Protection Act amended so that heavier punishments could be handed down as a deterrent.
The deliberate killing of an animal should lead to a maximum seven-year jail sentence, Lu said.
“Along with respect for human life, we should also educate people to respect the lives of animals. It is time for the law to be amended,” he said.
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