The owner of a horse who was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for beating the horse to death at the race track in Manacor has been released. Palma’s High Court has overturned the sentence on appeal and has instead imposed a programme of animal protection supervision, enforced and monitored by the court.
The owner, referred to as E.S.M., was the first person in Spain to be convicted of the crime of animal mistreatment.
The judge who sentenced him described the “appalling death” of Sorky das Pont as “an aberration in the twenty-first century”.
In December 2012, the owner, angered by the horse’s poor performance in a trotting race at the Manacor Hippodrome, beat Sorky to death with a stick. The appeal court, despite fully sharing the original judge’s sentiments and acknowledging the public’s revulsion, has ruled that his remaining in prison would not be guided by reasons of general and positive prevention and that criminal law would become merely a mechanism for exemplary punishment.
The court has pointed out that consideration was not given to personal and family circumstances, a mother with senile dementia. It noted that the eight months sentence was agreed by both prosecution and defence, with the owner having accepted guilt, and says that the original judge could not put aside “more subjective considerations linked to social criticism”. The appeal ruling continued: “As this is a short sentence, a better response would be in other forms of compliance through participation in a programme for the protection of animals.”