Prosecutors probe kosher slaughter in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Prosecutors in Poland are investigating reports of the kosher slaughter of a cow that may have violated Polish law.

The prosecutor began investigating the March 12 shechitah, or kosher slaughter, of a cow in the northeastern town of Tykocin after hearing about it from a county veterinarian in Bialystok.

Michael Schudrich, the Polish chief rabbi, called on the government to resolve the kosher slaughter issue soon.

"This case was not about preparing large quantities of meat for export but a small amount of meat to allow the Jews to fulfill the religious obligations of the Passover," he said in a statement released Thursday. "I would like Polish government to make decisions in this matter in the near future."

Poland’s Agriculture Ministry has said it will work to enshrine ritual slaughter in Polish legislation this year that is designed to streamline the way that Polish procedures correspond with E.U. regulations that went into effect in January. The European Union has said individual countries will have discretion on whether to allow or ban ritual slaughter.

The status of ritual slaughter in Poland became unclear in November when a Polish court ruled that the government had acted unconstitutionally with its 2004 regulation exempting Jews and Muslims from stunning animals before slaughtering them, as their faiths require.

The Jewish community and some legal experts say kosher slaughter remains protected by another law, the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which states that ritual slaughter may be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community.

Poland’s halal and kosher slaughter business is estimated to be worth $250 million annually, mainly owing to exports.

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