Kurt Zouma could reportedly ‘face up to four years in prison’ in France after a video was leaked by The Sun appearing to show him ‘kicking his cat’.
The West Ham footballer, who has been axed from the next game over the incident, has had a complaint filed against him by an animal rights group and the pet has now been removed from his care by the RSPCA.
It’s believed that lawyers have contacted prosecutors, with a spokesperson saying: “We condemn this heinous act, have asked that the player be suspended from the France team, and filed a legal complaint against him.”
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New legislation was brought in France last year which means the ‘mistreatment of animals’ is now punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of £50,000.
According to articles 113-6 of the French Penal Code, a citizen can be prosecuted for criminal acts carried out, even involving incidents that took place abroad.
The RSPCA has released a statement about the incident, saying: “We’d like to reassure people that we’re investigating and the cats are safe and in our care.
“We have been dealing with this since before the clip went viral online and we need to follow the proper legal process and not discuss due to UK GDPR laws.”
The Premier League club say they’ve fined Zouma ‘the maximum amount possible,’ which is thought to be two weeks wages and the money will go to animal welfare charities.
After the clip surfaced, the 27-year-old released a statement in which he apologised for the distressing video.
He said: “I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.
“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
“They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”
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