‘Cat burning’ trial begins today

Rosa Santos, the owner of a cat used in a ‘shocking’ cat burning ritual in the north of Portugal last year, is to start facing trial today (October 11).

The ritual took place in the small northern village of Mourão in Vila Flor, Bragança and caused a wave of outrage when a video of it was uploaded to YouTube in June 2015.

The video shows people lighting fire to a wooden pole lined with hay. The fire then reaches the top of the pole, where a cat was 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.

The controversial ritual caused an outpouring of rage over social media, with many complaints being made to authorities.

Villagers defended the ritual as a “tradition” and said no animal was ever killed.

Their explanation did not convince authorities, as Portugal’s animal protection law suggests one-year prison sentences for people who “without a legitimate motive, inflict pain, suffering or any other kind of physical mistreatment to a pet animal”.

Prison time may go up to two years if mistreatment intends to “cause the animal’s death or serious and/or permanent injury to the animal, compromising its ability to move”.

Authorities were only able to identify the cat’s owner, who is also believed to have shown GNR police a different cat from the one used in the ritual in order to show them that the animal was okay.

The trial starts today and will include 10 testimonies as well as the videos of the ritual which will be used as evidence, JN adds.

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