Rīga 'Black panther case' verdict delivered

In the case of a black panther removed from an apartment in Rīga early this year, three accused persons pled guilty and have been fined, according to December 29 information of the prosecutor's office.

According to the indictment, two of the accused individuals agreed to purchase the leopard “Panthera Pardus”, which is an endangered species, for €15,000. The defendants violated the Animal Protection Law's prohibition to purchase, hold in captivity, alienate or keep for sale or exchange, wild predatory animals.

The defendants had found out that there was a possibility of amputating a panther's claws, which would make the animal less dangerous. One of the accused individuals, who was the owner of a leopard and responsible for animal welfare, decided to amputate the claws and therefore asked the other accused person to find someone who could carry out the procedure.

The third accused person in this criminal proceeding had been addressed and asked to undertake the amputation, to which he agreed.

In accordance with the Animal Protection Law, the exposure of an animal to transformational or other non-medical procedures, if the necessity thereof has not been determined and has not been performed by a veterinarian or another person in accordance with the regulatory enactments regulating the welfare of animals, shall be regarded as cruel treatment of the animal. The panther is affected by the amputation of claws in both health and well-being, as the animal can no longer fully develop its natural behavior.

The prosecutor deemed all three persons criminally responsible for cruel treatment of animals, and two of the accused persons are criminally responsible for violating endangered wildlife trade rules.

On 23 December 2020, the Rīga City Pārdaugava Court  imposed a fine of 80 minimum monthly salaries on one accused person - EUR 34 400, 420 hours of forced labor on another person, plus one-year probation supervision, while the third accused person was fined the amount of 47 minimum monthly salaries  - EUR 20 210.

During pre-trial criminal proceedings, the leopard was removed and transferred to the Rīga Zoo. Since the animal in accordance with the Criminal Law is to be recognized as criminally derived property, the prosecutor requested the court to confiscate the panther and to transfer it to the State Revenue Service.

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