Twenty people have pleaded guilty to hate speech against migrants after writing incendiary Facebook comments in reaction to an elderly man’s mugging in Floriana.
In September 2020, Emmanuel Zammit was attacked by three dark-skinned men who had stopped him to ask for a cigarette, with police later arresting them.
A video of Zammit with a black eye and blood on his face was filmed by anti-irregular migration activist Raymond Ambrogio and went viral on social media, sparking anger at acts of crime committed by irregular migrants.
However, police believed some of these comments crossed the line and prosecuted twenty people in court today.
Inspectors John Spiteri and Kylie Borg read out some of the comments in court today, which ranged from criticism of “bloody foreigners” to warning they “should all be kicked out before we start a war” or that “we should burn them all if they cross the line”.
Magistrate Ian Farrugia handed the 20 accused people suspended sentences ranging from 18 months to two years, depending on the severity of the comments, as well as fines ranging from €150 to €500.
He also made it clear that similar comments in the future could land them “straight to prison”.
“The things you have said here are very serious,” Farrugia was quoted as saying by Times of Malta.
“It’s okay to make comments and be critical but not to devolve into hate speech. For you, uttering a few words means nothing, but it could inspire other people and incite them to commit heinous acts. The country will be a much better place if we have less of this behaviour.”
“The next time you go online I urge you to spread messages of good news, spread love instead of spewing hate.”
Cover photo: Left: Emmanuel Zammit
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