An Indonesian court has jailed a dog meat trader in a landmark case hailed by animal rights activists pushing for a ban on the "brutal" practice.

A court near Indonesia's cultural capital Yogyakarta on Monday sentenced the suspect to 10 months in jail and slapped him with a 150 million rupiah (€9.120) fine.

The man, 48, was charged under animal cruelty laws for transporting some 78 canines stuffed inside gunny sacks placed on the back of his pickup truck. 

Police in May intercepted the vehicle and later discovered that 10 dogs had died due to lack of food and water, while another six later passed away, a court official said.

"This is the first-ever prosecution for such a case," Edy Sameaputty, spokesman for Kulon Progo district court, told AFP on Thursday.

The animals were bound for Solo city on Java island, where they were expected to be sold for their meat.

Dog Meat Free Indonesia, which has campaigned for years to end the widespread trade, welcomed this week's ruling. 

"The verdict sends a strong message to traders who knowingly operate illegally that this trade will not be tolerated," it said in a statement.

While dogs are widely viewed as unclean and are rarely kept as pets in Indonesia their meat remains a delicacy among some groups.

A cheap source of protein, dog meat is also still eaten in several other Asian countries. 

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