Trial of student cat killer begins

08/16/2016 02:05 PM
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Chan Ho-yeung (left) arrives in the court building.
Chan Ho-yeung (left) arrives in the court building.

Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) A university student from Macau went on trial at the Taipei District Court on Tuesday for allegedly abusing a stray cat to death last year, and he found out he may also have to answer for a more recent cat abuse incident.

The defendant, Chan Ho-yeung (陳皓揚), who is set to graduate from National Taiwan University (NTU) this summer, arrived at the court with police protection as hundreds of protesters were on hand to seek tougher punishment for animal abuse under the Animal Protection Act.

Chan admitted to the court that he killed a stray cat known as Big Orange in the neighborhood near the university's main campus in Taipei last year. The cat had been reported missing and feared dead because of similar deaths in late December.

In his defense, Chan argued that he suffers from psychological problems and is unable to control his urge to kill cats.

The court raised the bail previously granted by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office to NT$200,000 (US$6,412.93) from NT$50,000 and restricted him from leaving the country.

The student was accused of the killing after security camera footage showed he abused the cat, and he admitted to the act and led police to the cat's body on Dec. 31, 2015.

He apologized publicly after the December incident, saying that he felt guilty for hurting a weak creature simply because he lost control emotionally, and begged for forgiveness.

Chan was indicted in May, but he was recently linked to the disappearance of another cat kept by a restaurant in Taipei's Wenshan District on Aug. 2.

The student admitted to police during questioning on Aug. 7 that he beat the cat to death and dumped the body in the Xindian River.

The presiding judge at Tuesday's hearing said the new case will be combined with the existing case once prosecutors finish their investigation and bring up new charges.

Protesters outside the court on Tuesday called for the Animal Protection Act to be amended as soon as possible so that it imposes tougher punishment on animal killers.

Under the existing law, violators of the act found to have intentionally caused severe injury or death of an animal can face a maximum prison sentence of one year and a fine of NT$100,000 to NT$1 million.

Several draft bills that seek to stiffen the penalties, to up to five years in prison in one bill, passed a first reading at the Legislature in early July, but they must pass three readings before any one of them can become law.

NTU Chief Secretary Lin Ta-te (林達德) said the school's Student Disciplinary Committee will meet to discuss the case by the end of the month.

Chan was given two major demerits and two minor demerits by the university for the December cat killing.

Lin said the university will not let Chan -- a student in the Department of Chemical Engineering -- complete procedures to obtain his diploma and formally graduate before a disciplinary decision is made.

Chan will be expelled if he is given one more minor demerit, Lin said.

(By Yu Kai-hsiang, Hsu Chih-wei, Chu Tse-wei and Kay Liu)enditem/ls

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