A shocking case of alleged deadly animal abuse has sparked huge outrage on social media in Indonesia this week, prompting a police probe into the matter.
Recently, a man, identified by the police by his initials AAH, posted several highly disturbing video stories on Instagram showing a dying cat. According to AAH in the videos, he forced the cat to drink ciu (fermented sugarcane liquor), causing it to spasm violently and eventually die. At one point, someone believed to be AAH also held up the cat's head to force a bluish liquid down its mouth.
Notably, the videos were posted with captions that implied the alleged abuse was intentional, such as, "I hope you (the cat) will be restless in the afterlife. Take revenge on me," and, "Thank you. Because of you, I can make this status."
Outraged animal welfare activists were prompted to react as soon as the videos went viral. Doni Herdaru Tona, founder of Animal Defenders Indonesia, said he would file a police complaint against AAH and show no mercy on him like he did in previous cases of animal abuse, in which he did not press charges after the perpetrators apologized.
In response to the public's wrath against him, AAH posted a video on YouTube in which he sought to clarify what really happened to the cat. Flanked by two friends (one of whom he said was a witness at the scene and the other a knowledgeable former cat owner), AAH said that he and his friends happened upon the dying cat one day, which had been poisoned after it ate a poisoned rat.
AAH then said he decided to post videos of the dying cat, including the part where he forced it to drink the bluish liquid – which he said was actually coconut water – and the provocative captions as a form of social experiment to see how unverified viral content could outrage netizens.
AAH did not apologize at any point in the video and said that he regretted that so many people were deceived.
Yesterday, the Yogyakarta Police tweeted that the incident is being investigated, and officers so far found reason to believe that, unlike his statement in the clarification video, AAH did actually force the cat to drink ciu.
"Based on the statements of two colleagues of AAH who live at the cafe [near where the cat died], they confirmed that AAH made the cat drink ciu. More developments on the case will be revealed soon," the tweet read.Another tweet in the thread said that AAH goes to university in Yogyakarta and also lives at the cafe. However, when officers looked for him on Wednesday, AAH was not at the cafe as he has gone back to his hometown of Tulungagung, East Java.
In Tulungagung, local police today said they have questioned AAH, who told them the same things he said in his clarification video. Police say the videos were taken in the East Java town, not Yogyakarta, and that they have dug up the cat's grave for an autopsy to determine whether or not AAH is telling the truth.
Animal abuse is generally not considered to be a serious offense in Indonesia. Under the Criminal Code, animal abuse that leads to the death of the animal is a crime only punishable by up to nine months' imprisonment, as well as a minuscule IDR300 (US$0.02) fine. Animal rights activists have long called for a revision to the law, which was drawn up during the Dutch colonial era, to introduce harsher punishments to prevent animal cruelty.
We'll update this developing story as more information becomes available.