The husband and son of National MP Barbara Kuriger have appeared in court on multiple animal cruelty charges. Neither has entered a plea.
Louis Stephen Kuriger and Tony Michael Kuriger, and business partner Lloyd Timothy Harris appeared for the second time at the Palmerston North District Court today. Each faces 11 charges.
Oxbow Dairies Limited is also named in the case, a company the Taranaki-King Country MP has shares in.
The MP is not facing charges herself.
The charges allege mistreatment of animals so bad that some of them had to be put down.
Louis Kuriger, Kuriger's husband, is charged with failing to diagnose or treat 74 cows that were suffering from chronic lameness, which the Ministry for Primary Industries says caused the animals to suffer "unreasonable distress". The documents allege that 25 cows had to be put down as a result.
Other charges relate to several cows being euthanased because surgical bandages had been left for too long. Some of the charges carry a maximum penalty of up to five years' imprisonment, and a $100,000 fine.
The three men charged did not enter a plea today, and none is expected at the next court date on April 26.
Tony Kuriger would only say outside court "I have nothing new to report".
His two co-accused did not respond to questions about the charges.
When the charges first came to light, Barbara Kuriger said her family had a long record in caring for animals and deserved the right to a fair trial.
When asked if she had noticed any animal abuse on her farm, she said "no".
Kuriger is National's rural communities spokeswoman and frequently asks farming-related questions in Parliament. She said she had kept the National Party advised of the investigation and charges.
The Kurigers are award-winning farmers. Tony Kuriger was the sharemilker/equity farmer of the year at the 2014 Hawke's Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards.
Louis and Barbara Kuriger won the same prize at the 1987 Taranaki awards. Kuriger is a former Dairy Woman of the Year and lives in Taranaki.
She has been an MP since 2014 when she replaced Shane Ardern. She is also a National Party whip.