A 76-year-old man from Wellen in Limburg province has been sentenced to four months suspended for animal cruelty after he was found guilty of beating a badger to death with a club.
The man, who has not been named, was spotted in a snow-covered field in Alken, Limburg in April this year by two walkers. They saw the man beat at something at his feet with a heavy stick, and on closer inspection it became clear the object was in fact an animal.
The witnesses filmed the scene but missed the violence. They did, however, notify the police at Borgloon who brought the animal to the Nature centre at Oudsbergen. They found the badger in a state of shock but still living.
The animal was kept to be cared for at the centre, but died two days later.
The court in Hasselt heard how the cause of death was the result of swelling caused by blows to the spine and collapsed lungs. The accused, meanwhile, claimed the video showed him poking the animal with a stick to see if it was still alive. As for the blows, he told the court he had tried to put the badger out of its suffering – unsuccessfully, as it turned out.
His lawyer, meanwhile, took the opportunity to complain of the “lynch party” that had pursued his client since video of the beating appeared on social media.
The prosecution called for a guilty verdict and a sentence of six months. The court ordered instead four months suspended. He was also fined €1,200 and ordered to pay €800.
In the meantime, three nature organisations – Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen, Natuurpunt Limburg and Wellense Natuurvereniging ’t Bokje – filed as civil parties in the case, and were awarded damages of €3,625.
Damages awarded to civil parties, unlike fines, cannot be suspended. The man intends to appeal.