Bis-Serjetà creator faces criminal charges over ‘carpet-bomb’ jibe on River of Love

Satirical website owner Matt Bonanno faces criminal charges and up to €50,000 in fines over a Facebook post from last year about evangelical Christian group River of Love

Matt Bonanno is facing charges over the above comments against River of Love
Matt Bonanno is facing charges over the above comments against River of Love

Criminal charges have been filed against Matt Bonanno, the owner of the satirical website Bis-Serjetà, for “the misuse of electronic equipment to make threats” against the evangelical Christian group River of Love.

The incident occurred on January 4, when Bonanno made a satirical Facebook post stating that River of Love “should be treated exactly like ISIS”.

After this, one of his friends commented that “I don’t think Malta can afford a sustained aerial bombing campaign on Żebbuġ”, which is where River of Love used to be based.

Bonanno responded with: “And Żebbuġ is pretty nice. Relocate River of Love to Buġibba, then carpet bomb. Two birds with one stone.”

Bonanno announced on his platform that police filed charges against him and his Facebook friend for violating two clauses of the Electronic Communications law.

They stand accused of breaching Article 48(d), which prohibits the use of electronic communication networks or apparatus for a purpose other than their intended use, and failing to observe instructions provided by the service provider for proper use. This is punishable by a fine of €25,000.

They have also been charged with breaching Article 49, which states that individuals who use the internet to threaten to commit a crime are liable to a fine of €25,000.

Bonanno and his friend could face fines of up to €50,000 each if found guilty by the courts.

Bonanno is raising funds to cover legal expenses and potential fines and has promised to invest any excess funds in Bis-Serjeta' and other comedic projects and donate 10% to an LGBTIQ charity.

He stated: "I don't intend to take this lying down. Help me fight against religious extremists for freedom of expression, satire, and opinion."

He also apologized for implying that Buġibba should be subjected to aerial bombardment. In his usual satirical vein, he added: "There are three or four restaurants that should be spared."