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Friday 22 August 2014

Slaughter of goats sees Islamic tradition fall foul of Irish law

Simon Brouder

Published 10/07/2013 | 15:02

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Rashid Kibaga at Tralee Court.

FOUR goats that were slaughtered in an illegal, improvised abbatoir in a private house in Ballonagh, Tralee, had been given to the Somali man who did the butchering by the Irish owner of the property, Tralee Circuit Criminal Court heard.

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FOUR goats that were slaughtered in an illegal, improvised abbatoir in a private house in Ballonagh, Tralee, had been given to the Somali man who did the butchering by the Irish owner of the property, Tralee Circuit Criminal Court heard.

At last Thursday's court, Rashid Kibaga (pictured right) a refugee from Somalia with an address at Atlas House, Deerpark, Killarney, appeared before Judge Carroll Moran for sentencing, having previously pleaded guilty to three offences arising from an incident in April 2012 when an illegal abattoir and four dead goats were discovered at 54 Balloonagh Estate. He had pleaded guilty to using the premises, of which he was not the occupier, as an unlicensed abattoir and to cruelly killing four goats.

Garda Patricia Fitzpatrick told the court that on the afternoon of April 23, 2012, gardaí in Tralee were contacted by a number of residents of Balloonagh Estate who had "seen and heard goats screaming in pain" in a house in the estate.

Gardaí went to 54 Balloonagh Estate where they discovered Rashid Kibaga and two other unidentified men who were residents of the Atlas House asylum seekers' hostel in Tralee, along with the carcasses of four goats.

Two of the animals had been skinned and another had been beheaded. That animal's head was lying on the ground near a number of knives and a large pool of blood. A fifth kid goat was found alive in a shed on the premises.

Harry McDaid of the Kerry Society for the Prevention of Cruelty ot Animals was called to the scene, along with a number of other animal welfare inspectors. They took the kid goat, which was described as being in a very poor condition, away from the house.

In a report which was read to the court, Mr McDaid said the goats, each aged between one and two months old, "would have felt pain and been terrified," while being killed.

Interviewed at the scene, Rashid Kibaga readily admitted killing the goats by cutting their throats in order to prepare 'Halal' meat, which is permissible for Muslims to eat under Islamic law. Mr Kibaga, a married father of two with no previous convictions who has not come to garda attention before or since, told Gardaí he didn't know his actions were illegal.

Defence Barrister Brian McInerny said his client was a strict follower of Islamic law.

"He is a very strong observer of his faith and he was doing things he would have done all his adult life in Somalia. He genuinely didn't know it was illegal," he said.

Mr McInerny explained that in Somalia is was customary to kill goats according to Halal rules in the home and it was tradition for young men to be shown how to carry out the killing of livestock correctly under Islamic law.

Garda Fitzpatrick said she accepted that Mr Kibaga was not aware his actions were against the law.

The court was told that Rashid Kibaga had been sold the five goats by the owner of the property who was aware of the purpose for which the animals were being bought.

Mr McInerny said his client now recognised his actions were wrong and "understands that things are done differantly in this country."

"He apologises to the people of Ireland for offending them," he added.

Appealing for leniency, Mr McInery said there was little need for a custodial sentence. "It's not neccessary to impose a custodial sentence as a detterant to others. I don't think there's going to be an outbreak of goat-slaying in the back gardens of Ballonagh and Ireland," he said.

Judge Moran said he respected Mr Kibaga's religious beliefs but that the law of the land has to be observed. He imposed a 12 month prison sentence which he suspended for two years.

Kerryman

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