On August 13th-2014, Martina Pluda, Communications Officer of the Master in Animal Law and Society of the UAB, has been interviewed from the Austrian radio station Radio Salzburg on a current Animal Law case, which involves a Muslim Arab family and a sheep.
What happened? Friday, August the 8th- 2014 an Arab family of tourists bought a sheep from a local farmer in Kaprun (Pizgau, Salzburger Land), in order to have it slaughtered according to Muslim ritual. The animal has been seen short afterwards, tied to the post of a parking lot, from Ms. Barbara Pillwein, who tackled the Arab tourists. As the police then pointed out they should remove the sheep from the parking space as soon as possible, Ms. Pillwein left. On the same day she noticed that the sheep was still there - this time alone - and took it with her without doubting. Short after the police was het her door, asking her to give the sheep back otherwise she would be charged for theft. Indignantly she had to hand the animal over to the police. Because of all the rumors no slaughterer agreed to perform the killing so the police had to take the sheep back to the farmer, who refunded the sales price to the Arab family. The mayor of Kaprun appeals now to local farmers to avoid selling live animals to tourists. According to Islamic ritual the throat of the animal is cut open with one stab, so that the animal bleeds to death.
Here the translation of the interview with Martina Pluda and some remarks on the case there wasn´t enough time to talk about during the program:
- Who does the sheep belong to now?
M.P.: „The Arab family and the farmer have sealed a normal sales contract. They paid the purchase price and the sheep was handed over to them. Since afterwards the sheep was given back and the price refunded, the farmer is again the owner.”
In Austria everyone is allowed to buy a sheep, therefore this is not of legal concern. With the reverse transaction the property went back to the farmer. Ms. Pillwein cannot in any way be taken in consideration as possible owner.
- Is Ms. Pillwein a thief, did she act against the law?
M.P.: “It cannot be a theft because Ms. Pillwein did not have the intention to enrich herself or a third person unlawfully. She did withdraw a movable thing, which belonged to somebody else, but she did not want to for example sell the sheep and enrich herself illegitimately with the revenues. She states she simply wanted to save the sheep.”
Theft (§ 127 of the Austrian Penal Code) is an offence, which requires intention: both to take possession of the thing and to enrich oneself with it. Wanting to save the animal does not reflect these intentions. Misappropriation is also to be excluded; Ms. Pillwein does not meet the requirements of the actus reus.
- In the EU there are special Directives, rules, and standards for the slaughter of animals, which say that animals must be spared from any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering. What does it mean in this case?
M.P.: “Animals must be stunned before slaughter or killed instantaneously. In Austria the Federal Animals Protection Act forbids the slaughter of animals without previous stunning, except for ritual slaughters of a legally recognized religious denomination. In this case only specialized and authorized slaughterhouses are allowed to perform the killing and only before a veterinarian.”
For EU Member States the Directive 93/119/EC sets out requirements applicable to the slaughter and killing of animals (http://www.derechoanimal.info/bbdd/Documentos/703.pdf). As a general rule, animals must be spared any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering. Nevertheless Member States retain the right to authorize religious slaughter without prestunning in their own territory; in Austria this is regulated by the Federal Animals Protection Act. Therefore the Arabs under no circumstances could have performed the ritual themselves.
To know more about the case of Dorli:
Martina Pluda from the ORF studios in Salzburg