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Italian cyclist fined and suspended for killing San Marino tourism minister's cat

ESTEPONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 01: Antonio Tiberi of Italy and Team Trek - Segafredo competes during the 77th Tour of Spain 2022, Stage 12 a 192,7km stage from Salobreña - Peñas Blancas. Estepona 1260m / #LaVuelta22 / #WorldTour / on September 01, 2022 in Estepona, Spain. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
Antonio Tiberi says he will donate all his prize money this season after killing a cat with political connections. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

An Italian cyclist has been fined and suspended and said he will donate all his prize money this season to animal welfare organizations after he admitted to killing a neighbor's cat with an air rifle.

The cyclist is Antonio Tiberi, a 21-year-old who rides for Trek-Segafredo, while the neighbor is Federico Pedini Amati, San Marino's tourism and posts minister and a former joint head of state of the country, per the BBC.

Tiberi reportedly admitted that he tried out an air rifle by pointing it at the cat's head and firing, for which he was fined 4,000 euros (about $4,230 as of Tuesday) by a San Marino court. Tiberi's team later announced that the cyclist will be suspended 20 days without pay for the "reprehensible act" and will donate the money to "an appropriate animal care, protection and rescue organization."

The owner of the cat reportedly wasn't pleased with the punishment levied by the court:

"The cat didn't bother anyone," Mr. Pedini Amati told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"It had been with us for a long time. My 3-year-old daughter, Lucia, loved it. You cannot kill a pet and get away with a 4,000-euro fine."

Pedini Amati reportedly also said that he appreciated that Tiberi admitted to killing his cat but added, "we don't need to give these people residence." Pedini Amati served as captain regent of San Marino for six months in 2008, a position that functions as one of two heads of state for the tiny country landlocked in Italy.

Tiberi later released a statement apologizing for his actions and pledging to donate all of his prize money this season to animal welfare organizations in San Marino.

Tiberi's statement:

I deeply regret my shameful actions. I did something tremendously stupid and irresponsible, the seriousness and danger of which I realized only after the act. I don't want to make excuses. There is no "if" or "but." I take full blame for my actions and fully accept the consequences. I did not speak publicly about the incident before only because of my strong shame and regret.

I understand the anger that many people are feeling right now. I can do nothing but apologize to them, just as I did to my team, who are blameless in this incident. My conduct was not at all befitting a professional athlete, much less a humane and kind person. I am especially sorry to the minister of San Marino, Federico Pedini Amati, for the emotional damage I caused him, as well as to all the citizens of San Marino.

Apologies are meaningless without action. Therefore, I will be donating all of my prize money this season to animal welfare organizations in San Marino, with the help and collaboration of the local government. In addition, I will be volunteering my time to helping those organizations in person.

I realize that these gestures only come now, long after the incident. I'm hoping that by taking concrete steps, I can repair even a little bit of the damage and hurt that I have caused. I made a big mistake, and I believe that now, the only thing I can do is to act to redeem.