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Police jailed over dog attack

PRETORIA, South Africa -- Four white South African policemen have been jailed for setting their dogs on blacks during a training exercise.

Judge Willem van der Merwe described the dog handling training exercise as cruel and sadistic.

Robert Henzen, 32, Eugene Truter, 28, Jacobus Smith, 31 and Lodewyk Kock, 32, were convicted last week of seriously assaulting the three Mozambican illegal immigrants in 1998.

The policemen, who had pleaded guilty, were sentenced on Thursday to jail terms of between four and five years each.

The judge told the court: "They laughed and treated it as a joke. The (Mozambican victims) are clearly emotionally scarred and it was obviously intensely traumatic.

"The act was cruel and sadistic...It must have been terrifying."

The police officers were captured on video ordering their dogs to attack their three Mozambicans victims.

The video showed six policemen laughing as the Mozambicans pleaded for mercy during the attack in a field near Johannesburg.

On Thursday, the victims sat silently in the public gallery as the judge delivered his sentencing.

The judge said the police officers had only expressed remorse after the video was broadcast on South African TV.

Smith, who was said to be the ringleader, was sentenced to seven years in jail, of which two years were suspended.

The other three were each sentenced to six years in prison, of which two years were suspended.

Two other policemen involved in the case, Nicolaas Loubser, 27, and Dino Guito, 27, have pleaded not guilty and will stand trial on June 3 next year.

The three Mozambicans will seek substantial damages from the state and against the policemen in civil cases, their lawyer Jose Nascimento told Reuters news agency.


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