Greece has been engrossed this week by the cruelty and subsequent arrest of a man who was caught on video kicking a cat off the deck of a teverna into the sea or beach below.

Following backlash on social media where the video was widely shared, the 30-year-old man was identified and arrested for alleged cruelty to animals. He faces a maximum ten years in prison, and a huge fine, if convicted, according to strict new animal cruelty laws passed in Greece in 2020.

The man who posted the video on his own private social account, was dining with friends in an outdoor taverna in the town of Edipso on the island of Evia, on 1 May.

In the footage, which sparked outrage on social media, two kittens approach the man’s table. The man is seen, trying to lure the young cats with fish, before kicking one of them off the decking into what appears like the water below, although he claims it was the pebble beach. No one intervened or tried to stop him.

The man was arrested on Monday and appeared in court on Wednesday and released pending his trial on Friday 6 May. His lawyer, speaking to Greece’s Mega TV channel stated that he has only been charged with a misdemeanor and not a felony. If convicted, the man still may face a heavy penalty.

According to reports the cat was taken to a vet by animal rights activists, and was found unharmed.

The clip was shared so widely that even, Greece’s Police Minister, Takis Theodorikakos, intervened, condemning the act as “unacceptable” and congratulating those who brought the incident to the public’s attention.

After the backlash he received on social media, the man tried to excuse his behaviour stating that “We drank a little too much ouzo, haha and we did something stupid. In fact, we did not kick, but pushed the cat onto the pebble beach below.”