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Page last updated at 02:56 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 03:56 UK

Trio not guilty of pet massacre

A dead dog covered with lime under a bridge in the northern town of Vega Baja
The pets were found dead under the bridge

Three people have been found not guilty of animal cruelty in Puerto Rico in a case which provoked a national outcry.

About 80 pets banned from a housing project in Barcelonese were thrown off a 15-metre (50-foot) high bridge, and almost all the cats and dogs died.

Julio Diaz, owner of Animal Control Solutions, said the local council had seized the animals.

"The only thing I have done is protect animals," said Mr Diaz, who had faced nine years in prison if found guilty.

Two of his employees, Montano Rivera and Roberto Rodriguez Cembalo, were also cleared, after a trial lasting several weeks.

Superior Court Judge Miguel Fabre said in his ruling that prosecutors had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the three accused had thrown the pets from the bridge.

The defendants had waived their right to a jury trial, believing that impartial jurors would be impossible to find, in a case which attracted widespread revulsion a year ago.

The local council had employed Animal Control Solutions to remove the pets, because it understood that they were banned from the housing blocks.

The animals were supposed to be taken to a shelter, for a fee of $60 per animal.

But Mr Diaz said the animals found dead under the bridge had been removed by the local council itself, and he did not know who had killed them.


SEE ALSO
Fury at Puerto Rico pet killings
13 Oct 07 |  Americas
Regions and territories: Puerto Rico
25 Jul 07 |  Country profiles


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