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Man fined for insulting asylum seekers on social media

The 46-year-old's Facebook comments constituted hate speech as they violated the dignity of asylum seekers, the court ruled.

The District Court of South Karelia in Lappeenranta, near the Russian border (file photo). Image: Ilona Pesu / Yle

The District Court of South Karelia has fined a 46-year-old man for incitement against a population group.

The man was ordered to pay 30 daily fines, which based on his income added up to nearly 1600 euros.

According to the Lappeenranta court, the defendant had posted two comments in a conversation on his Facebook page, which included bias, insults and violent threats against asylum seekers.

The comments were seen by about 200 of the man's Facebook "friends".

The man denied all charges. He alleges that he did not write the messages himself, but that someone else had logged into his Facebook account and posted them.

The district court rejected this argument as not plausible or credible.

The defendant also argued that the messages did not constitute incitement against a population group. In his view, the posts did not include any concrete threat of violence and were comments on a general level, within the limits of freedom of speech.

The district court declared that the comments specifically concerned asylum seekers.

It said that one comment was racist and likely to encourage intolerance, contempt and hatred towards asylum seekers, while another message was threatening in nature.

In addition to the fines, the district court ordered the man to delete the Facebook posts.

The defendant still has the right to appeal the district court's judgment.

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