Australian accused of hitting police horse during COVID protest refuses virus test


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

Kristian Pulkownik, 33, was arrested on Saturday after allegedly hitting a police horse called Tobruk during the protest.

Sydney police charged him with animal cruelty, participating in an illegal assembly, brawling and disobeying a COVID-19 directive, The Guardian reported.

Pulkownik refused the COVID test in prison despite being required to appear in court. He has therefore not yet applied for bail since his arrest.

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Saturday’s protest followed weeks of strict shutdowns in Australia as the delta variant increased COVID-19 infections in the country. Many “Rally 4 Freedom” protesters gathered without masks.

Pulkownik was quickly identified after an image of him beating Tobruk was posted on social media.

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Magistrate Mark Richardson read a note from Parklea Prison, where Pulkownik is being held, claiming that prison staff could not bring the suspect into the video liaison room because he refused to be tested for the virus.

“Your client is in custody and has been in the community and poses a risk to others because he could be Covid positive,” magistrate told lawyer Hollie Blake. “Your client is isolated.”

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Blake had claimed that prison staff prevented him from speaking to his client, Sky News Australia reported. Richardson suggested that Blake file a petition with the Supreme Court if she continues to challenge the situation and the protocols.

The 10-year-old horse, who was doing well after the incident, received a wave of support, with NSW police reporting that people had sent gifts of “carrots, apples, licorice, chocolate and bouquets of flowers “.

“Tobruk is even more spoiled by the delicious gifts today !!” the police posted on Facebook. “Thanks thanks thanks.”

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Pulkownik’s next scheduled court appearance will be on August 11, when his lawyers will file for bail.

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