CAIRO – An Egyptian court on Wednesday convicted four men over the grisly killing of a dog whose torture was captured on video, sentencing them to three years in prison.
The video, which triggered an uproar on social media, shows the dog named Max tied up on a busy Cairo street while a group of men set upon him with knives, machetes and clubs. A small crowd stood by and watched.
The convicted men include the dog's owner, Mohammed Sayed, who handed him over to be killed to settle a long-running dispute with neighbors who claim they had been bitten by Max. The neighbors said Sayed had used Max, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, to stage armed robberies in the crowded Cairo district of Shoubrah el-Kheimah.
Sayed is a fugitive. He was tried in absentia and convicted of animal cruelty.
The other defendants were arrested about two weeks ago, several days after the dog was killed. They were convicted of cruelty to animals, weapons possession and disturbing the peace. The ruling can be appealed.
Sayed told a TV talk show last month that he had offered a sheep to settle the dispute but his neighbors insisted on killing Max. In return, they promised to drop charges against Sayed for letting his dog bite them.
"My dog was so loyal he looked at me while he was dying as if to beg me to save him, but I could not do anything for him," Sayed told the program by telephone.
Animal cruelty and abuse is widespread in Egypt, a country of some 90 million people with untold numbers of stray dogs and cats. However, the video of Max's killing shocked many people with its graphic cruelty.
The events inspired animal lovers to stage a small but rare protest in Cairo to call for the introduction of effective measures to fight cruelty to animals.