“I want to defend really innocent people”

Determined to get justice for the death of his dog, the latter turned to this lawyer …

Determined to get justice in the death of his dog, the latter turned to this lawyer, who specializes in pets. For seven years now, Isabelle Gharbi-Terrin has begged the whole of France to protect our best four-legged friends, constant victims of the brutality of their masters.

In Cognac (Charente) he brings the voice of Baguera, a kitten left by its owner to starve; at Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire) he pleaded guilty to the case of Fudji, a German shepherd who had died from burns caused by his mistress; in Bordeaux he defended Cookie’s memory, twice defended by his master …

“People without a voice”

“I spent thirty years in criminal law and I had to wait until the end of my career to find my way”, said the lawyer who didn’t lose any of his enthusiasm and willing lyrics when he spoke about his fight. “Defending people hurts me with it,” he said. Today I defend the truly innocent. I pray for the whole people, the people without a voice. »

Since they were silent and helpless, he was one of the first to plead for an animal. “I think the animal has a right to a lawyer for itself. It’s legally wrong, of course, but it’s still the animal that suffers. Let’s not forget that they are the first and foremost victims. . »

“I consider the animal entitled to a lawyer for himself”

If at first, his requests for dogs and cats made people smile, now he drags to his haya an entire group of comrades (and especially siblings) ready to fight in court. The association she created, Defense and Animal Dignity, now has about ten women lawyers and one lawyer.

As retirement time approaches, he intends to ask for a few more years to see his cases through to the end, but his purpose now is to make his association a channel of “sending cases”.

Fine up to 45,000 euros

It must be said that justice has progressed greatly on the issue. Legislation has improved, more and more cases are bringing a verdict and courts are taking animal abuse cases more seriously, sometimes not hesitating to impose heavy penalties.

To date, Article 521-1 of the Penal Code provides for two years imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros for all “serious abuse” and “acts of cruelty to a pet”. Since December 2021, its revised version provides for three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.

In the event of aggravating circumstances (the author is the owner of the animal or an agent using public service missions, or acts committed in the presence of a minor) the author has five year and 75 000 euros in the event of aggravating circumstances).

“Justice is advancing and taking these acts at the height of their weight”

“Justice is progressing and making these acts at the height of their weight, says the lawyer. When the animal is still considered furniture, the damages are ridiculous, about 200 to 300 euros. maximum. But much has changed. In Poitiers, civil parties got 12,300 euros from the neighbor who killed their dog, Jagger. In Niort, a serial killer cat was sentenced to 10,300 euros in damages. »

“I want to see them in prison”

Like other animal rights organizations, its ultimate purpose is to criminalize acts of animal cruelty. If these are considered crimes and not offenses, then the penalties are greater for the offenders. “I want to see them in prison,” he said.

If criminalization is not yet on the agenda, the lawyer nonetheless says “judges are more and more inclined to incarceration”, pushed by a more mobilized civil society. We have seen up to 18 associations take civil action to request the Iboo case, in Marseille. The three-month-old pup was burned and enucleated by his torture, who was sentenced to ten months in prison with continued detention.

In 2021, he was jailed against Icko’s ex -girlfriend, the dog he adopted and became his fight mascot. “When I took him he had no more chops. I took a long time to name his torturer but he was eventually sentenced to four months. »

Modern methods

However, he says, there is still a long way to go: “Usually the magistrates will hear one or two people and close the case. More than half of the files were not processed or filed without follow-up or the investigations were not done properly. And we can trust him to promote justice.

In the case of the death of the dog Oksana, he accepted the decision of the prosecution to conduct DNA research. “It’s a criminal law process that’s usually reserved for people. This is a development that is rare to underline. We can reassure ourselves that justice uses modern scientific methods to identify the guilty. »

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