France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Friday he was "particularly shocked" by an incident in which a domestic cat was apparently deliberately run over by a high-speed train at a Paris station.
An animal rights group this week filed a complaint against national railway operator SNCF over the cat's death, which occurred before the eyes of its owners at the Montparnasse station on January 2.
Darmanin also announced that the government was appointing 4,000 police officers and gendarmes across France to help prevent acts of violence against animals.
What happened to the cat?
The cat, Neko, which belonged to a woman and her 15-year-old daughter who were planning to travel to the southern city of Bordeaux by train, escaped from its travel bag and took refuge under a high-speed train, accordng to the AFP news agency.
Although railway staff were informed of the cat's presence under the train and requested to rescue it, the train departed nonetheless, with the daughter telling animal rights association 30 Million Friends that "we saw him sliced in half."
"They told us it wasn't their problem, that it was just a cat and that we should have had it on a leash," she said.
The train company then reportedly offered the owners a free ticket to Bordeaux.
What action is being taken?
The animal rights group 30 Million Friends said it had filed a complaint for "grave abuse and cruelty that led to the death of an animal."
If the case were to go to court, it could mean a fine of up to €75,000 (more than $80,000) and a five-year jail sentence for those found guilty.
Allowing the train to set off was "a deliberate act ... an informed decision — and that is criminally reprehensible," the group's lawyer, Xavier Bacquet, told broadcaster BFMTV.
SNCF has expressed regret at Neko's death but said staff were not allowed to go down onto the tracks because of the danger of electrocution.