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Suspended sentence for woman who laced supermarket meat with needles

A German animal rights activist who hid sewing needles inside sausages at supermarkets has been convicted of causing grievous bodily harm. The 60-year-old said she only wanted to stop people eating factory-farmed meat.

A court in the northern German city of Lübeck on Thursday sentenced the woman to serve a suspended two years in prison for tampering with food and causing grievous bodily harm.

The defendant, a trained nurse, had already admitted to meddling with a number of meat products in supermarkets around Eutin and Malente, near Germany's border with Denmark. She said she used needles from her own sewing kit and slipped them into pre-packed mince meat, fillets of beef and sausages sitting in shop refrigerators.

"I'm sad that I've made so many people worry, " the woman said in her closing remarks. "I thought people wouldn't eat the meat when they saw the needles."

The woman was actively contaminating meat for almost a year before she was arrested last September.

Although no serious injuries were reported, two customers were pricked as they prepared the tainted products. Two other victims suffered cuts, only noticing the sharp implements once they had already started chewing.

Thursday's conviction relates to 14 cases of contamination. In addition to the suspended prison term, the judge ordered the woman to attend outpatient therapy in a psychiatric day clinic.

The woman had told the court she decided to target meat to protest against the abuse animals face in factory farms.

"Industrial meat is full of drugs and is created under awful conditions," she said in a court appearance earlier this month. "I just wanted to get people to stop eating it."

In a separate incident, a radio station just over the border in Denmark has come under fire after broadcasting a baby rabbit being clubbed to death to make a point about animal welfare.

The public broadcaster Radio24syv then posted a video on its Facebook page, allegedly showing the rabbit being cooked, saying it wanted to "stir a debate about the hypocrisy when it comes to perceptions of cruelty towards animals."

"These animals have often endured horrific suffering on their way to our dinner tables. These animals are killed according to the same controlled conditions as our studio rabbit, and without it invoking any strong reactions or calls for boycott," the station said.

nm/msh (AFP, dpa)

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