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Slaughterhouse workers fined for animal cruelty – secret video allowed as evidence

Eight men who beat slaughterhouse animals two years ago were sentenced on Thursday to day fines by the Pirkanmaa district court. Secret footage filmed by animal rights activists was deemed admissible in court.

Kuvankaappaus videolta Sastamalan teurastamolta syys- tai elokuussa. Teurastaja tainnuttaa lammasta ennen varsinaista teurastamista.
Screen capture showing a worker stunning a sheep before slaughtering it. Image: Oikeutta eläimille / Lehtikuva

Eight slaughterers were fined for animal abuse on Thursday after assaulting cattle in a Sastamala slaughterhouse two years ago.

The eight men face between 25 and 40 income-based day fines. The prosecution's demands for banning the perpetrators from continuing to keep animals were not enforced.

The prosecution had also called for the slaughterhouse – which has since gone bankrupt – to pay a corporate fine, but this demand was also rejected by the court.

The physical abuse of the animals included striking cows with wooden bats and tearing out the wool from live sheep.

District Court accepts secret tapes

The case originally made headlines in 2015 when Yle's investigative programme MOT presented footage filmed by animal rights activists. The videos, which were shot secretly by the activists, show the slaughterhouse workers attacking the animals in their pens.

The accused parties originally demanded that the unlawful footage be dismissed as evidence. However, Pirkanmaa District Court deemed the videos were authentic and that the method of their procurement did not significantly infringe on privacy because the footage was filmed at the defendants' place of work during working hours.

The court said it allowed the video evidence to ensure that the crime was solved.

All eight of the defendants have denied the accusations, and have a right to appeal the decision.

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