French kitten hurler jailed for animal cruelty

MARSEILLE (AFP) - A Frenchman who sparked widespread outrage by posting videos of himself hurling a kitten through the air was sentenced to a year in prison on Monday on charges of animal cruelty.

Farid Ghilas, 24, was arrested in the southern city of Marseille on Friday after the video was posted on the Internet showing him throwing a white-and-ginger kitten named Oscar as far as he could through a housing estate.

Five-month-old Oscar, shown mewling and traumatised in the video, survived but suffered a broken leg and is facing surgery.

In court, Ghilas, who had eight previous criminal convictions, expressed remorse at the incident.

"I don't know what came over me. I was an idiot and I regret it," he told the court, which also forbade him from owning pets.

The video was widely condemned in France and several animal-rights groups, including the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, had filed complaints in the case.

Some 200 animal-rights activists, accompanied by about 20 dogs, gathered outside the court for the hearing.

Ghilas had been facing a maximum of two years in prison and prosecutor Emmanuel Merlin had told the court a jail sentence was justified.

"His particularly perverse and sadistic act disgusted the entire planet," Merlin said.