Rosa dos Santos, a 63-year-old woman who allowed her cat to be used in a “cruel and barbaric” cat burning ritual last year, has been formally accused of “animal mistreatment” and will face trial in October.
The story caused a wave of outrage when a video of the ‘tradition’ was uploaded to YouTube in June 2015.
The ritual took place in the small northern village of Mourão in Vila Flor, Bragança.
In the video, people are seen lighting fire to a wooden pole lined with hay.
The fire then reaches the top of the pole, where a cat is imprisoned inside a clay pot.
When the pot falls to the ground, the cat is seen running in flames before disappearing out of the sight of the camera.
Following an outpouring of rage over social media, villagers defended their tradition, saying “no animal was ever killed” and that Farrusco, the cat used in last year’s ritual “got a bit of fur burnt off,” but was otherwise “fine”.
In fact, they said this was the second year running that the cat had been used for the ancient ritual.
However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled the experience “caused burns to the cat’s fur, and thus inflicted pain and suffering”, writes Correio da Manhã, stressing that though many people watched and took part in the ritual, only the cat’s owner faces prosecution.
Due to the Youtube video’s “low quality”, neither the Public Prosecutor’s Office nor PJ criminal police have been able to identify the people who set fire to the pole, adds the paper.