Former National Taiwan University (NTU) student Chan Ho-yeung (陳皓揚) was this afternoon sentenced to 10 months in jail and fined NT$350,000 (US$11,000) for killing two cats in the past two years.

Chan, 24, has the option to pay an additional NT$600,000 to avoid a prison term. He can also appeal the decision.

The Macanese-Chinese student had earlier been found guilty of killing a cat named "Stripes" (斑斑) belonging to a restaurant in Taipei this August and another stray cat last December. He was charged with violation of the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), which carries potential penalties of an up to NT$2 million fine and two years imprisonment.

The hearing at the Taipei District Court began in August. Chan told the Court he had a “psychological problem” and “could not control the compulsion to kill a cat.”

At the final hearing on Sept. 23, prosecutors sought six months in prison for each of the two cases.

After the first hearing on Aug. 16, Chan was attacked outside the Court by an angry mob of animal rights activists. He was physically assaulted and the mob called him "human waste." Police clashed with the activists and several officers were injured, including two who were hospitalized, trying to protect Chan. Additional security restrictions were set for future hearings related to Chan’s case.

He has been labelled the "cat killer" by mainstream media in Taiwan.

Chan was expelled from NTU in August and will not be eligible to obtain his graduate degree despite completing all the requirements.

In response to the sentencing today, the university said it “respects the judicial judgment” and said it is willing to provide counseling for Chan.

Wang Hsien-ju (王嫻如), a teacher who witnessed Chan killing the stray cat last December, told United Daily News she is disappointed by the decision and believes a fine alone does not suffice for punishment.

“The money won’t bring the cat back to life,” she says.

Lu Chiu-yuan (呂秋遠), a lawyer who has frequently commented on the case in local media, likewise believes the punishment is too light and says it will not send a strong enough message to the public.

The Animal Protection Act was amended in July to ensure tougher penalties after Taiwan military personnel uploaded a video of torturing a white puppy to death. However, Lu says more education on “respecting the value of lives” is needed in Taiwan and that the law should be further strengthened so that people convicted of killing animals face longer prison time, UDN reports.

More than 300 people are understood to have attended a memorial service for one of the cats near the university.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang