France Interior Minister 'shocked' after train runs over cat
France Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin slams a train company for the way it managed an incident that led to the killing of a cat.
France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday he was "particularly shocked" as a train departing a busy Paris station deliberately run over a domestic cat.
Darmanin expressed his shock after an animal rights group filed a complaint this week against national railway operator SNCF over the cat's death on January 2.
Georgia and her 15-year-old daughter Melaina, who were both passengers at the Montparnasse station, said their pet Neko ran away from its travel bag and disappeared under a high-speed train as they got ready to leave to Bordeaux.
They tried for 20 minutes to persuade the staff to rescue it, but the train departed, killing the cat.
"We saw him sliced in half," Melaina told 30 Million Friends, the animal rights association.
"They told us it wasn't their problem, that it was just a cat and that we should have had it on a leash."
After the incident, the train company offered them a free ticket to Bordeaux, they said.
30 Million Friends filed a complaint for "grave abuse and cruelty that led to the death of an animal," the association said, which could lead to a fine of up to 75,000 euros (more than $80,000) and a 5-year jail sentence if the case goes to court.
Starting the train was "a deliberate act... an informed decision -- and that is criminally reprehensible," the group's lawyer Xavier Bacquet told BFMTV.
SNCF said it regretted the "tragic" incident, but that descending onto the tracks was strictly forbidden due to the risk of electrocution.
Darmanin said he was "particularly shocked by the way SNCF unfortunately managed the terrible affair".
"The investigation will determine who is criminally responsible," he told BFMTV.
Police officers in 4,000 stations across France would be trained to respond to animal trafficking and abuse, Darmanin announced.
30 Million Friends welcomed the announcement.
But it must "imperatively come with proper awareness raising among magistrates and adapted penal repression," it said.