France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday he was “particularly shocked” after a train departing a busy Paris station appeared to deliberately run over a domestic cat.
He spoke after an animal rights group this week filed a complaint against national railway operator SNCF over the pet’s death at the Montparnasse station on January 2.
Passengers Georgia and her 15-year-old daughter Melaina said their pet Neko escaped from its travel bag and disappeared under a high-speed train as they prepared to travel to Bordeaux.
After 20 minutes of trying to persuade staff to rescue it, the train departed, killing the cat.
“We saw him sliced in half,” Melaina told animal rights association 30 Million Friends.
“They told us it wasn’t their problem, that it was just a cat and that we should have had it on a leash.”
Afterwards, the train company offered them a free ticket to Bordeaux, they said.
30 Million Friends said it had filed a complaint for “grave abuse and cruelty that led to the death of an animal”.
That could lead to a fine of up to 75,000 euros (more than $80,000) and a five-year jail sentence if the case goes to court.
Starting the train was “a deliberate act… an informed decision — and that is criminally reprehensible,” the group’s lawyer Xavier Bacquet told BFMTV.
SNCF said it regretted the “tragic” incident, but that descending onto the tracks was strictly forbidden due to the risk of electrocution.
Darmanin on Friday said he was “particularly shocked by the way SNCF unfortunately managed the terrible affair”.
“The investigation will determine who is criminally responsible,” he told BFMTV.
Darmanin announced that police officers in 4,000 stations across the country would be trained to respond to animal trafficking and abuse.
30 Million Friends welcomed the announcement.
But it must “imperatively come with proper awareness raising among magistrates and adapted penal repression,” it said.
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