A state judge ruled Wednesday that researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison may be held criminally liable for the deaths of sheep in decompression experiments, and authorized the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the matter, Isthmus reported. The ruling by a judge in Dane County, Wisc., came after animal rights groups urged local law enforcement officials to pursue criminal charges against nine university faculty and staff members. The groups said that the deaths, in research examining the effects of decompression (or "the bends"), violated state law that prohibits the killing of animals through decompression, and Judge Amy Smith concluded that "probable cause" exists to conclude that the researchers violated the law. The state prosecutor who brought the charges concluded that no exception existed for research. Madison officials could not be reached for comment.
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