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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Monks seek reprieve for bullock
Shambo the bullock

Hindu monks have argued in court for a reprieve for their "sacred" bullock Shambo, who is due to be slaughtered after testing positive for bovine TB.

A judgement will be delivered in Cardiff on Monday on whether there will be a judicial review on the decision.

Lawyers for a multi-faith community in Carmarthenshire want the review.

Rural Development Minister Jane Davidson took great care amid the case's sensitivities, but she decided he must be put down, the court heard.

David Anderson QC, for the Skanda Vale community, said there were "exceptional features" in the case.

It is necessary to eliminate the risk
Clive Lewis QC, Welsh Assembly Government

"Shambo is an animal of considerable religious significance", he said.

"A policy devised for farm animals cannot be read over to these very different circumstances," said Mr Anderson.

He said his clients believed that slaughtering the bullock would be "an act of violence to life and a desecration of the temple".

Referring to article nine of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees "the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and the right to "to manifest religion or belief in worship" Mr Anderson said slaughtering Shambo would be a "serious infringement in a deeply-held belief".

Clive Lewis QC, for the Welsh Assembly Government, said bovine TB was a major threat to animal health.

Control measures

"Bovine tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease capable of transmission to other animals, including wildlife and indeed to humans," said Mr Lewis.

"The matter has been considered personally by the minister," he said. "She has asked what steps are needed to protect health. She has taken advice from the chief veterinary officer and the chief medical officer," said Mr Lewis.

"This was a long, careful, constructive consideration at the highest levels of the assembly. It is necessary to eliminate the risk".

Mr Lewis told the court there was no accepted treatment for bovine TB in the UK, with policy based on surveillance and slaughter.

"We should not go into experimental bovine drug testing," said Mr Lewis.

Farmers and AMs have said the bullock should face the same fate as any other cattle diagnosed with bovine TB.

The community there have a deep respect for life, for human life and animal life and we are trampling on their feelings for no good reason
Paul Flynn MP

Under control measures, slaughter is carried out to protect human and animal health.

The hearing came as it emerged that other animals at the community, a former hill farm, may have also tested positive for the disease.

But Newport West MP Paul Flynn described the calls for Shambo to be slaughtered as "barbaric" and the "crude power of the farming industry stamping their will on a community".

"The community there have a deep respect for life, for human life and animal life and we are trampling on their feelings for no good reason."

Brynle Williams, Conservative spokesman on rural affairs in the assembly, said "sentiment" needed to be taken out of the debate.

He said: "What a lot of people omit to understand that each time this poor animal breathes, he excretes the virus."

A campaign to save Shambo has included an online petition which has attracted almost 20,000 names. A video stream has also been broadcast live from Shambo's pen in the temple.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Brother Alex from the Skanda Vale Temple



SEE ALSO
Anxious wait at Shambo's temple
12 Jul 07 |  South West Wales
Timeline: Shambo
12 Jul 07 |  Wales
'No timetable' for Shambo's death
16 May 07 |  South West Wales
Farmers' worries if Shambo spared
14 May 07 |  South West Wales
Top vet's visit to 'sacred' bull
11 May 07 |  South West Wales

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