Danish Journalist Found Not Guilty of Killing Fish With Shampoo

A Danish television journalist was acquitted by a Copenhagen appeals court Friday of killing 12 guppy fish by pouring shampoo into an aquarium for a report, a judicial source said.

Lisbeth Koelster, a television anchor on the Danish public channel DR1, was found guilty last May by a district court in Glostrup, about seven miles west of Copenhagen, of violating animal protection laws.

She poured a "very diluted" amount of shampoo into a fish tank on a 2004 episode of the consumer affairs show she hosted to demonstrate the level of toxic material in a brand of anti-dandruff shampoo.

After three days, all but one of the fish were dead.

The lower court judge ruled that Koelster "deliberately committed an act of cruelty to animals" and violated animal protection laws but decided not to hand down a sentence since an unreasonable amount of time -- four and a half years -- passed between the date the complaint was filed and the trial.

But appellate court judges ruled Friday that Koelster's test did not violate European laws on experimenting on animals.

They also said it was "not ... sufficiently proven that Ms. Koelster had caused the fish anguish and suffering," as claimed by the plaintiff, a veterinary practitioner who saw Koelster's show.

Following the proceedings, Koelster said she was "thrilled at this very unambiguous verdict" which "exonerates me of all the charges."

"This is a great victory for the freedom of journalistic work," she said.

"I was not an executioner of these fish and I have not violated animal protection laws, as this ruling confirms."