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Two B.C. animal rights activists convicted for roles in hog farm protest

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Two animal rights activists have been found guilty of break-and-enter and mischief in connection with their actions at a protest at a Fraser Valley pig farm in 2019.

Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer were both convicted of the two criminal charges they were facing. A third, Roy Sasano, was acquitted on a single mischief charge.

The 2019 protest was sparked by the release of a disturbing video by animal rights group PETA. The video showed dead piglets as well as the corpse of a larger pig. Some pigs in the video appeared to have growths, and one seemed to have trouble standing. PETA said the video had been provided anonymously and alleged it had been filmed at Excelsior hog farm.

Speaking outside of court in Abbotsford Saturday where dozens of supporters had gathered, Sorrano and Schafer both said whatever sentence the judge hands down will "pale in comparison" to the suffering endured by the animals.

"The verdict is unfortunate but I am grateful that a vast amount of people have got to see what happens in farms like Excelsior.” Schafer added.

Soranno also repeated the demands for change that the activists have made throughout the trial, including making CCTV cameras mandatory at all farms and slaughterhouses in the province, and shifting the responsibility for animal cruelty investigations to a government agency.

The BC SPCA, which currently investigates and enforces animal cruelty cases, did not end up recommending charges against the operators of the Abbotsford farm. The organization said that while what was depicted raised concerns, they could not come to any legal conclusions that an offence had taken place.

The case against the activists was decided by a jury, which began deliberating Friday. Schafer's defence council, Bibhas Vaze, raised questions about its makeup, saying it was all-white.

"When you have a juror with a red hoodie that says ‘Make Canada Great Again,’ you have questions about diversity of views and how they’re being reflected in the criminal justice system,” he said.

A date for sentencing will be set on Tuesday.

"These individuals, while they may have been found guilty by the letter of the law, at the same time, are of no risk to anybody," Vaze said.

There are no mandatory minimum sentences for either offence, but both do carry the possibility of jail time.

Soranno said they have not ruled out the possibility of appealing.

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