KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Malaysian court handed a jail term of 34 months and a fine to a man who killed a cat by stuffing it into the dryer of a launderette, state news agency Bernama said, the first such conviction under a new animal welfare law.
In Tuesday's (Nov 5) judgment, which the court stayed pending appeal by Nov 12, K. Ganesh, 42, was ordered to pay a fine of RM40,000 (S$13,100) for his crime, captured in a closed-circuit television (CCTV) clip that went viral on social media last year.
The grainy video shows a man holding open the dryer door as another pushes the cat in, before they turn the machine on and leave.
The judge, Ms Rasyihah Ghazali, said the sentencing took into account the fact that Ganesh was the one who placed the cat into the dryer.
"I hope this sentence will serve as a lesson to the accused and the public to not be cruel to animals," the news agency quoted the judge as saying.
During mitigation earlier, the defence asked that Ganesh be given a minimal prison sentence, as he could not afford to pay a fine.
"He only earns RM20 a day and is providing for his wife and child, as well as his father who is a person with disability after his leg was amputated due to diabetes," said his lawyer S. Muthuveeran.
He added that this was also Ganesh's first offence.
The prosecution, however, argued that his cruel act towards an innocent and defenceless cat warranted a harsh sentence.
Selangor Veterinary Department prosecuting officer Roslan Mohd Isa who stood for the prosecution said Ganesh's behaviour showed that he had no regard for the life of an animal.
"We have always seen this act as a result of the accused's attitude of not giving any regard to the life of the cat nor does he see an animal as a living being.
"Animals have the right to live and their welfare should be taken care of," he said, adding that the clip of the perpetrator in the midst of the act has also incurred the anger of many Malaysians.
Ganesh and two others, taxi driver A. Mohanraj, 42, and technician S.S. Satthiya, 26, had all claimed trial last year to the offence committed between 12.54am and 1am on Sept 11, 2018 at a self-service launderette in Taman Gombak Ria, Batu Caves.
All three were charged under Section 29(1)(e) of the Animal Welfare Act 2015.
The charge, which is punishable under Section 29(1) of the same Act and read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code, carries a maximum fine of RM100,000 or a jail term of up to three years, or both, on conviction.
It was reported that Mohanraj - who later changed his plea to guilty - was sentenced to two years' jail while Satthiya had received a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
According to the statement of the facts, a launderette manager received a call from a customer on Sept 11, 2018, informing him that there was a carcass of a pregnant cat in a dryer.
CCTV footage showed there were two men, one of whom took the cat out from under a table in the launderette and threw it into the dryer.
The men then inserted tokens into the dryer before exiting the premises.
The manager then lodged a police report on Sept 14 and the perpetrators were arrested on the same day.