Police have honored their pledge to hunt down the chief culprit responsible for hanging a Jindo dog by the neck from a forklift, setting it on fire and then eating it.
Investigators confirmed Thursday that they have arrested Santoso Wahyudi, a 28-year-old Indonesian migrant chiefly responsible for killing the dog and posting the photos on Facebook.
These photos gained the attention of animal welfare groups in Korea who took screenshots of the culprit’s Facebook profiles.
Nami Kim, among other animal welfare activists, reported the hanging of this dog to the police last week and sent them the photographic evidence.
Police initially tried to check the Facebook profiles of the suspects but they had been deactivated and the culprits had used fake names.
The four investigators from Naju police’s Intellectual Crime Investigation Division were in charge of the manhunt and Naju police’s support team provided assistance.
One of the photos uploaded to Facebook showed a truck registration plate attached to a business.
Investigators traced the truck to a business located in Dongsu, Naju in South Jeolla Province, which used to hire Wahyudi.
The now defunct company informed the police that Wahyudi would likely be working at Bonghwang Agricultural and Industrial Complex in Naju.
Police continued their investigation and interviewed people at the complex who informed police that they could find him nearby.
Wahyudi was hiding in his house preparing to leave the country after the story of him killing the Jindo dog went viral.
A police official in charge of the case said they would follow the same investigation procedure if provided with evidence that Koreans had uploaded illegal animal slaughter to social media.
The Director of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) AJ Garcia disputes that Korean men do not upload animal cruelty videos to social media.
“People upload stuff [like that]. We’ve seen Korean military personnel posting videos of themselves punching dogs. There was also a high school kid who uploaded a video of himself kicking a dog or cat. Every time we have a case like this and it is a Korean person, nothing ever comes of it. There are no charges filed. The person does not get arrested.”
Garcia has worked “very closely” with Korean people investigating the dog meat industry and has seen video footage of Korean men hanging dogs in the same manner as the two Indonesian migrant workers, which is illegal.
“It is a Korean law. If foreigners have to abide by it so do the Koreans. Why not prosecute Korean people when they hang dogs or burn dogs alive?”
Under the Animal Protection Act, violators of the law are subject to a fine of up to 10 million won ($8,995) or a maximum prison term of 1 year if they kill animals in a cruel way, including hanging them.
Under the same law, up to a 3 million won fine may be issued to those who film, sale, distribute or post the videos or images of an animal being tortured, killed in a public place or die out of starvation on the Internet.
The official said the media would likely be exempt from being punished for publishing such videos and images for the public’s interests.
He warned netizens and animal activists that they may face criminal charges if they post them on social media or the Internet where some people find those appalling images too graphic and offensive.
While interrogating the suspect, police learnt that he had an expired work permit.
Wahyudi came to Korea in 2008. His visa expired in April 2013.
Police said that once their investigation is over, they will hand Wahyudi to immigration and take appropriate action regarding his overstay.
“The punishment can be heavier as the violation of Immigration law will be added while prosecuting [him],” animal rights activist Nami Kim said.
“I hope this case will serve as a good example, a warning to all the migrant workers to ensure nothing like this can happen again,” she added.
As of Thursday Kim’s change.org petition, to get the two men responsible for killing the dog prosecuted, has been signed just over 8,000 times.
“Let’s make the target 30,000, this will be sent to the prosecutors office,” Kim said.
You can sign this petition here https://www.change.org/p/petition-charge-the-two-indonesian-workers-in-south-korea-for-hanging-and-barbequing-a-dog
Tae-hoon Lee contributed to this article.
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