Professional cyclist Antonio Tiberi has been fined €4,000 for fatally shooting a minister's cat in San Marino, Italian media reported on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider, a junior time trial world champion in 2019 and recent resident of the tiny republic landlocked within Italy, reportedly said he was trying out an air rifle and aimed at the cat's head and fired.
"My intention was simply to measure the weapon's shooting range, so I was targeting a no parking sign," Tiberi said, according to Il Corriere della Sera, who also reported that the air rifle had been confiscated.
"I also admit that I tried to shoot a cat. And to my surprise I actually shot it. I had no intention of killing the animal. In fact, I was convinced the weapon was non-lethal."
The cat belonged to his neighbour Federico Pedini Amati, San Marino's minister of tourism and posts and a former Captain Regent, or head of state, of San Marino.
"The cat didn't bother anyone," said Pedini Amati, who also suggested Tiberi's residence should be revoked.
"It had been with us for a long time. My three-year-old daughter Lucia loved it. You cannot kill a pet and get away with a €4,000 fine," he said.
"I appreciated that the boy admitted the fact. Having said that, we don't need to give these people residence."
Tiberi could have faced a prison sentence of between four months and two years in prison if the incident had occurred in Italy