On April 1st last year at the Hamburg Dom Volksfest, three masked men burst into the pony carousel, shouting and waving, while children were riding in circles, reported Focus on Friday.
But what was meant as a protest against the maltreatment of the animals quickly turned into panic as the horses bolted, injuring two of the children in the process.
Police managed to identify one of the masked men after the incident and this Thursday he was sentenced to a year's probation and a €2,000 fine which will be split and given in compensation to the families of both injured children.
In court, the accused, Finn Ole. R (23), defended his decision to protest the carousel saying, “it's the animals that need their freedom. It is cruelty to animals if they have to go round in circles and are threatened by someone with a crop in their hand,” die Welt reports.
The two injured children were 6-year-old Hanna, who suffered a cranial bruise and tension in the spine, and 10-year-old Nekla, who suffered elbow injuries and grazing on the hip.
Neither child's injuries were lasting, but according to the judge “this idiotic action could have resulted in death or paraplegia in the children.”
According to Focus, the 23-year-old media designer admits that the protest was wrong, calling the incident “the biggest mistake of his life.”
“Such a dangerous act cannot be excused,” the court judge said in defense of her verdict, reports NDR.
The judge stated that, “although it surely wasn't the protesters' goal to injure children,” the defendant had, “at the very least accepted” the possibility that bystanders could be injured by his actions”.
To express his regret, the accused wrote letters to the families of the children to apologise and ask for forgiveness. These letters were later read out at the court hearing in Hamburg Mitte district court.
But according to die Welt, these letters didn't earn the defendant full forgiveness, as 6-year-old Hanna told her father she didn't want to see the man, adding, “I almost needed a wheelchair because of him”.