(Reuters) -Trek–Segafredo cyclist Antonio Tiberi has been fined 4,000 euros ($4,300) for fatally shooting a minister's cat in San Marino, Italian media reported on Tuesday, and his team have suspended him for 20 days without pay.
The 21-year-old rider, a juniors time trial world champion in 2019 and recent resident of the tiny republic landlocked within Italy, reportedly said he was trying out an air rifle and aimed at the cat's head and fired.
The cat belonged to his neighbour Federico Pedini Amati, San Marino's minister of tourism and posts and a former Captain Regent, or head of state, of San Marino.
"The cat didn't bother anyone," Pedini Amati was quoted as saying by Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
"It had been with us for a long time. My three-year-old daughter Lucia loved it. You cannot kill a pet and get away with a 4,000 euro fine," he said.
Trek–Segafredo said it would donate Tiberi's pay during his suspension to an appropriate animal care, protection and rescue organization and work with the rider to "ensure he educates himself".
Pedini Amati appeared to rue the fact that Tiberi had been allowed to move to San Marino.
"I appreciated that the boy admitted the fact. Having said that, we don't need to give these people residence."
($1 = 0.9398 euros)
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, additional reporting by Rohith Nair; Editing by Hugh Lawson)