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Tuesday, 3 March, 1998, 16:00 GMT
Give a dog a bad name ...
A dog sentenced to death by a Tanzanian court for having an offensive name has been executed, local newspapers reported on Tuesday.

The dog, named "Immigration" by its owner John Kachela, was sentenced to hang by a judge in Rukwa province last week because its name was deemed insulting.

It was spared the noose, but newspapers reported that police shot the one-year-old mongrel on Friday after an appeal was rejected.

The dog's plight attracted the attention of animal lovers around the world, said Mike Pugh, head of the East African branch of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Killing the animal was "a barbaric act," he said.

Jean Gilchrist of Kenya's Society for the Protection and Care of Animals said the sentence was a miscarriage of justice.

"There can be nothing in law which makes an animal responsible for its own name," she said. "The poor dog was a completely innocent party."

Prosecutors told the court in Sumbawanga, western Tanzania that Kachela had mischievously given the dog the name of a highly respected and law-abiding government department, and compounded the crime by going to the department daily and boasting of its name.

The magistrate found Kachela guilty of scandalising the Department of Immigration in naming his pet. He was given a suspended six-month jail term.

A Sumbawanga resident said the magistrate had been summoned to provincial headquarters to explain his actions. "The case is the talk of the town," he said.

Jesse Kwayu, acting news editor of the Swahili-language newspaper Majira which first broke the story, said the owner was heartbroken.

"The owner is very upset - he didn't expect the dog to suffer this trauma," Kwayu said.

"We were completely surprised by the judgement being implemented," he said. "You know in Sumbawanga there are many outrageous stories."

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