Sunday, September 12, 2021

Australian man accused of punching police horse at COVID protest refuses virus test

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A man accused of punching a police horse at an anti-lockdown protest in Australia will remain in jail after refusing a COVID-19 test. 

Kristian Pulkownik, 33, was arrested Saturday after he allegedly punched a police horse called Tobruk at the protest.

Sydney police charged him with animal cruelty, joining an unlawful assembly, affray and failing to comply with a COVID-19 directive, The Guardian reported.  

Pulkownik refused the COVID test in jail despite the fact that it is a requirement to appear in court. He therefore has not yet applied for bail since his arrest.

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The protest Saturday followed weeks of strict lockdowns in Australia as the delta variant has driven up COVID-19 infections in the country. Many of the “Rally 4 Freedom” protesters gathered unmasked. 

Pulkownik was quickly identified after an image of him allegedly punching Tobruk was plastered across social media. 

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Magistrate Mark Richardson read a note from Parklea Prison, where Pulkownik is being held, saying prison staff could not bring the suspect to the video link room because he refused the virus test. 

“Your client is in custody and has been in the community and is a risk to others as he could be Covid-positive,” the magistrate told barrister Hollie Blake. “Your client is in isolation.”

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Blake had claimed that prison staff were making it impossible for her to speak to her client, Sky News Australia reported. Richardson suggested Blake lodge a supreme court application if she continued to take issue with the situation and protocols. 

The 10-year-old horse, who was fine following the incident, received an outpouring of support, with the New South Wales police reporting that people have sent gifts of “carrots, apples, licorice, chocolate and bunches of flowers.” 

“Tobruk being extra spoilt by the yummy gifts today!!” the police posted on Facebook. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” 

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Pulkownik’s next scheduled appearance will be on Aug. 11 when his lawyers will make a bail application. 

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