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Pigeon owners arrested for illegal betting

23 September 2015, 12:57

Taipei -Taiwanese authorities said Wednesday they would prosecute 129 people for illegal gambling on pigeon races -- part of a broader investigation into the sport after animal rights group PETA filed complaints.

More than Tw$66.6 million ($2 million) was seized from the Fengyuan Pigeon Club in the central city of Taichung, according to the district prosecutors office.

US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted the results of its investigation last year to Taiwanese authorities, saying pigeon racing kills 1.5 million birds a year on the island.

"This particular club we found to have gambling offences but we didn't find there's a situation of animal abuse," Hung Jia-yuan, director of Taichung's prosecutors office, told AFP, adding investigations would continue elsewhere.

The main suspects in the gambling case face a maximum of three years' imprisonment, while others may be fined.

In a raid last month on a pigeon-racing club in the southern city of Kaohsiung, 35 people were prosecuted and about Tw$18 million was confiscated.

PETA in a statement Wednesday commended Taiwanese authorities for cracking down on the sport which it called cruel.

It said a recent series of races by the Kaohsiung club started with 7,301 birds but only had 36 by the fifth race.

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