DESPITE an unprecedented public outcry concerning a long line of incidents which have seen donkeys injured, starved and even killed in different locations across Spain, justice remains something of a pipedream for our fellow creatures.
The unfortunate difficulty in prosecuting cases was brought to the fore this week when the judge of first-instance in Lucena, Cordoba, ruled that there was not enough evidence to hold a man responsible for allegedly hitting a four-month-old donkey at a nativity display, who later died of his injuries.
Sending shockwaves around the world, the December 2014 case saw an overweight Spanish man enter the town’s Bethlehem display and sit on one donkey, while allegedly kicking another. Contrary to popular belief, it was not the donkey he sat on, but rather the other donkey, named Platero, who later died.
A complaint was filed by El Refugio del Burrito, a charity dedicated to rescuing, caring and fighting for the countless abused donkeys across Spain. They are a subsidiary of the Donkey Sanctuary founded in the UK in 1969 and have been at the forefront of the battle against cruelty, launching court cases and crucially raising awareness of the cause.
It was El Refugio del Burrito who filed the original complaint against the man for allegedly hitting young Platero, and against the Lucena Council for alleged negligence in care, Platero not seeing a vet until two days after his injuries when it was too late.
On April 5 the court stated: “Even if an aggressive conduct was proved, it is not clear which was the direct cause of the animal’s death, and it is therefore not possible to establish the cause-effect nexus needed so that the facts are prosecuted as a criminal offence.”
El Refugio del Burrito told the Euro Weekly News that they immediately launched an appeal against the decision and will also enlist the help of a specialist psychologist to help them understand a crucial discrepancy in a witness account of the alleged attack.
A man had initially confirmed that he had seen the man strike Platero, but later changed his statement under further investigation.
The news comes just days after a British couple were arrested in Pinoso, Alicante for trying to rescue a severely neglected donkey by taking it from a farm. Meanwhile the situation of the Mijas donkey taxis remains delicate following protests, and with summer looming there could be further tragedies on the horizon.
Whether Platero will ever receive a measure of justice remains to be seen, as the appeal will likely take months to reach a conclusion. With the heartening passion and empathy from the British expatriate community and the sterling work of El Refugio del Burrito, however, there is cause for hope, even in these dark times.