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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 22:14 GMT 23:14 UK
Chile court orders cat execution
Luz is a dangerous fugitive under a death sentence
A fugitive domestic cat suspected of carrying rabies must be killed, Chile's highest court has said.

The Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling saying Luz, an angora cat from Valparaiso, should be decapitated.

Now police are searching for Luz after she escaped from an animal detention centre in the port city, west of the capital Santiago.

Luz has not developed any symptoms of rabies, but animal experts believe she may be a danger to public health.

Chile's Supreme Court unanimously upheld a ruling by a lower court ordering Luz's execution because of the risk of infection to humans.

Officials believe that Luz may have been infected during a fight with a bat that was found dead at the home of her owner, Amada Salinas.

The bat was later found to have rabies.

Street cat

Ms Salinas has since fought to save her cat's life, after it became clear that authorities would seek to have Luz beheaded.

She was not encouraged by Luz's apparent success at giving her captors the slip, insisting that the cat would not be tough enough for life on the streets of Valparaiso.

She told journalists that Luz would die of hunger or be killed by another animal, the Efe news agency reported.

That way, Ms Salinas said, health authorities would get their wish whether or not they actually got the chance to carry out the sentence.

A Chilean MP and lawyer acting for the cat pledged to make a final appeal to animal health experts to save Luz's life.

Laura Soto has accused the courts of taking the "easy option" in ordering the Luz to be killed, and that a vaccination programme could work.

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