Cat burglar on trial for theft of sausage
A cat burglar, accused of stealing a sausage, is on trial with the prosecution demanding the judge to throw the book at the feline.
The court case took place at the District Court of Zaporizhia in the northern Ukrainian city of the same name, and was created as part of a project to allow schoolchildren to see how the courthouse works without exposing them to unpleasant details that often come out during a trial involving adults.
It was done in a real courtroom with a real judge, prosecutor and defence lawyer present.
The black-and-white cat looked remarkably calm as his good name was besmirched with accusations that he'd stolen a sausage, with the children acting as the jury to determine his fate.
The defendant, Vaska, was expected to treat the proceedings with respect, which he clearly failed to do when he was lying around on the table rather than standing head bowed in the dock.
The prosecutor demanded severe punishment for Vaska, but it remained calm throughout the hearing.
Luckily the feline's experienced lawyer managed to convince the jury that Vaska didn't steal the sausage or show any intent that it had planned to.
The cat, he argued, was completely innocent.
Perhaps helped by the fact that it was a vegetarian sausage - unappealing to the four-legged defendant - the court finally acquitted Vaska of any wrongdoing.
Somebody else, the lawyer pointed out, clearly must have done it.
As well as taking part in Vaska's trial, the learners were given a tour of the district court and had to produce their own reports of the proceedings with drawings.
Olga Borodina, the Director of the Zaporizhzhya Local Centre for the Provision of FSLA (Free Secondary Legal Aid), the organisation that set up the event, said she couldn’t express the joy participants experienced with this event.
"The children were sincerely worried about the cat being sentenced and they actively participated in discussions about punishment. For example, they asked for a gentle punishment."
She added that the direct participation in the court hearing gave the children the opportunity to learn about justice, the free legal aid system, who the prosecutor is, and what the judge and the lawyer does.
"It's clear that interactive events such as this increases legal awareness with children. There was no limit to their joy when Vaska was acquitted," Olga says.
One learner asked: "Will the authorities be investigated for wrongly accusing Vaska, and will the cat receive compensation?"
Another one said: "It's so cute. What a wonderful way of teaching us about law and order."
Source: Magazine Features