Two hunters in southwestern France were tried on Thursday for the 2020 killing of a Franco-British man who was mistaken for a wild boar, an incident that has led to calls for tighter restrictions on shooting.
The death of Morgan Kane, 25, sparked outrage after he was shot while chopping firewood near his home in Calviniac Village.
A police investigation concluded that the 35-year-old shooter was inexperienced, did not have sufficient knowledge of the area, and that the manhunt was poorly organized.
The man who fired the fatal shot and the manhunt organizer, 51, has been charged with manslaughter at the trial in the nearby town of Cahors, where hearings began on Thursday.
If convicted, they face up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 ($75,000).
The death of Kane, whose father was British and whose mother was French, sparked a campaign for greater guarantees of hunting which in France leads to frequent accidents, mostly involving other hunters.
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During busy times of the season, the French countryside reverberates with the sound of gunshots, leading many walkers to avoid woodland areas for their own safety.
“A lot of people support us,” said Audrey Tendeleri, a member of the Campaign for Restraints group that took place after Kane’s death.
“Eighty percent of the people are in favor of strengthening hunting laws in order to better share the countryside with hunters,” she told AFP before the trial.
The hunters form a powerful political lobby through the National Hunters Union (FNC) and the practice is seen as a rural tradition that few politicians dare question.
FNC President Willie Schrein called for an “exemplary judgment” in Kane’s case, acknowledging the strong public feelings about the death.
“We ban poachers who don’t respect the basic rules. It shouldn’t happen again. It is unacceptable that this mistake could lead to the death of a man,” he said.
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“If you don’t know what you’re shooting at, don’t shoot.”
The number of hunting incidents has decreased over the past 20 years, according to the government’s Office of Biodiversity.
The figures showed that there were 90 accidents during the 2021/2022 season, eight of which were fatal, including two people who were not hunters.