Middle East

Jerusalem rabbis 'condemn dog to death by stoning'

A Jewish rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a stray dog it feared was the reincarnation of a lawyer who insulted its judges, reports say.

The dog entered the Jerusalem financial court several weeks ago and would not leave, reports Israeli website Ynet.

It reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog.

The animal is said to have escaped before the sentence was carried out.

One of the judges at the court in the city's ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighbourhood had reportedly asked local children to carry out the sentence.

An animal welfare organisation filed a complaint with the police against a court official, who denied reports that judges had ordered the dog's stoning, according to Ynet.

But a court manager told Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot the stoning had been ordered as "as an appropriate way to 'get back at' the spirit which entered the poor dog", according to Ynet.

Dogs are often considered impure animals in traditional Judaism.

Update 20 June 2011: This report was based on sources usually regarded by the BBC as reliable. In the light of categorical denials by rabbinical court officials, an update to this report has been published.