A man filmed whipping a horse repeatedly has been cleared of animal cruelty.

Elton Saliba, 37, appeared in court after a video emerged of him striking a horse several times with a whip in Maghtab, Malta.

The video of the incident, which took place in May last year, went viral after it appeared on social media. (Watch the video – viewer discretion advised)

Police launched an investigation that lead to the cruelty charge.

Witness Rennie Zammit, told the court that he was speaking to Mr Saliba outside the stable when his 18-month-old child broke free from her mother and ran inside next to the horse.

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Mr Zammit defended Mr Saliba’s reaction. He claimed Mr Saliba was trying to stop the horse from biting his daughter.

The court heard Mr Saliba’s ex-girlfriend uploaded the video onto the internet in revenge after he refused to marry her.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli said the court did not find evidence of any criminal intention to cause injury or distress to the animal and had no reason to doubt Mr Saliba’s explanation.

The prosecution did not present any proof of any injuries the horse may have suffered.

Magistrate Demicoli said the video was far too short for experts to determine whether the horse had suffered.

Mr Saliba was cleared of all criminal charges.