France releases horse mutilations suspect

There has been speculation that the assaults on the horses could be motivated by a satanic rite or an Internet cult. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - A man arrested over a string of attacks on horses that have shocked France was released on Tuesday (Sept 8), prosecutors said.

The man had been detained on Monday after a computer-generated image of one of two people suspected of cutting horses in the Yonne department of central France was circulated.

But witness interviews, mobile phone triangulation and checks on the man's moves all proved that he had nothing to do with the attacks, Mr Arnaud Laraize, a prosecutor in the central French city of Sens, said.

"He denied the charges from the start and his alibi could be corroborated," he said.

The attacks on horses, which have left France both disgusted and mystified as to their motives, are believed to be the work of several people.

About 20 horses have been found with their ears cut off, their genitals mutilated or with cuts elsewhere on their bodies.

There has been speculation that the assaults could be motivated by a satanic rite or an Internet cult.

The former suspect, 50, was arrested in eastern France.

He was known in neighbouring Germany for attacks on animals although in France was registered for drug-related crimes.

French police at the weekend launched a search for two suspects in the Cote-d'Or region of eastern France after a stable owner told police of an intrusion on his premises, during which one horse was wounded.

The Val-d'Oise department close to Paris recorded its first cases last Saturday: Two mares were wounded, but survived.

The French gendarmerie has said a total of 150 possible incidents were being looked at, but added that they might not all be linked.

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