French minister ‘shocked’ after train ran over cat

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Paris (AFP)- French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Friday he was “particularly shocked” after a train departing from a busy Paris station appeared to deliberately run over a domestic cat.

He spoke after an animal rights group this week filed a complaint against national rail operator SNCF over the death of the animal at Montparnasse station on January 2.

Passengers Georgia and her 15-year-old daughter Melaina said their pet Neko escaped from her travel bag and disappeared under a high-speed train as they prepared to travel to Bordeaux.

After 20 minutes of trying to persuade the staff to save him, the train drove off, killing the cat.

“We saw it cut in half,” Melaina told animal rights group 30 Million Friends.

“They told us it wasn’t their problem, it was just a cat and we should have kept it on a leash.”

Then the train company offered them a free ticket to Bordeaux, they said.

30 million friends said they had filed a complaint for “serious abuse and cruelty resulting in the death of an animal”.

This could result in a fine of up to 75,000 euros (over $80,000) and a five-year prison sentence if the case goes to court.

The start of the train was “a deliberate act … an informed decision – and it is criminally reprehensible”, group lawyer Xavier Bacquet told BFMTV.

The SNCF said it regretted the “tragic” incident, but that descent on the tracks was strictly prohibited due to the risk of electrocution.

Darmanin said on Friday “particularly shocked by the way the SNCF unfortunately handled the terrible affair”.

“The investigation will determine who is criminally responsible,” he told BFMTV.

Darmanin announced that police officers from 4,000 stations across the country would be trained to respond to animal trafficking and abuse.

30 million friends greeted the announcement.

But it must “imperatively be accompanied by a good awareness of the magistrates and an adapted penal repression”, he specified.