The supreme court rejected an appeal against the conviction of a shepherd sentenced to two years in jail after he set fire in Limassol claiming it was to kill a venomous snake, Cyprus News Agency reported on Monday.

Strict punishment for crimes that destroy or harm the natural environment is the highest duty of the court, the supreme court noted in its recent decision to dismiss the shepherd’s appeal to his prison sentence.

The man was convicted after setting fire in the Ayios Amvrosios village, in the Limassol district on August 17, 2020.

He claimed he started the fire to kill a viper that was next to his foot.

The blaze was put out by the fire service about an hour and a half after it started. It destroyed 3,000 square metres of dry grass, wild vegetation and small pine trees.

The appellant’s counsel proposed that since the criminal court rejected the existence of a viper, there is no reason why a man set the fire.

However, the supreme court said the existence and proof of motive were not necessary for conviction. Hence, the prosecution was not required to prove the reasons that prompted him to set the fire.

The criminal court “was justified in finding that the prosecution had proved the charge beyond reasonable doubt,” said the supreme court.

It also agreed that any suspension of the lenient prison sentence “would send the wrong message about such actions, which pose many unforeseen risks”.