Former MEP candidate’s suspended sentence confirmed, fine revoked

An Appeals Court has confirmed the suspended sentence handed to former MEP candidate Jean Pierre Sammut for inciting racial hatred but revoked a fine because no threats were made

Former MEP candidate Jean Pierre Sammut
Former MEP candidate Jean Pierre Sammut

The Court of Criminal Appeal has confirmed a suspended sentence handed to a former MEP candidate who had cited an anti-Semitic conspiracy online, in a judgment which also revoked the €3,000 fine originally imposed.

The fine had been originally imposed for posting threats online but the judge observed in the appeal that the author, Jean Pierre Sammut, had not in fact made threats.

Sammut had contested the European Parliament election with the defunct Alleanza Liberali party.

In 2021, 46-year-old Sammut had been handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he was convicted of inciting racial hatred, misuse of electronic telecommunications equipment and using that equipment to threaten to commit a crime.

The offences had taken place a year earlier, in March 2020, when Sammut had posted an online comment in which he spoke of “The International Jewish Conspiracy,” which he later described to the police as being a “mafia-like” group.

In court, Sammut had claimed that the intention behind his post was not to incite hatred but to encourage a discussion. The court, however, quoted the appellant’s -all things considered, unhinged- post, which had suggested that the numbers of potential victims of the Coronavirus pandemic had been inflated by the “Jewish-controlled media…for the pleasure of seeing us jammed.”

In his judgement rejecting the appeal, Mr Justice Neville Camilleri disagreed with Sammut’s claim that the Court of Magistrates had not looked into this alleged international conspiracy, observing that Sammut had, in fact, exhibited a Wikipedia page about “Zionist Occupation Government Conspiracy Theory,” which also made reference to “The International Jewish Conspiracy.”

The judge went on to diplomatically observe that “without this court taking anything away from the value of the Wikipedia website, it points out that not everything that is found on the Wikipedia website is necessarily correct.”

“The appellant states that “The International Jewish Conspiracy” is a mafia organisation. Frankly, this court is perplexed by this evidence and finds it difficult to find words that adequately describe what is nothing but a conspiracy theory, and as such is lacking in every evidentiary element,” the judge went on.

The court ruled that Sammut’s allegation that a sector of the media was under Jewish control was “only aimed at placing [Jews] in a bad light on the basis of their ethnicity and incite hatred against this racial group, which in the words of the appellant controlled the media.”

The court, however, upheld Sammut’s appeal relating to his conviction of having threatened to commit a crime through a communication device, noting that his post did not contain any threats.

The judge ruled the misuse of internet platforms to spread misinformation and hate speech.

“Unfortunately, today communication networks are often used so that instead of intelligent participation in open discussions for the public to make their comments, comments are made which [the law] is intended to prevent from being made. It is precisely for this reason that the Courts should see that, apart from justice being done to the victims of this crime, it must also seek to curb this deviant behaviour.”

The judge confirmed the suspended prison sentence but revoked the €3,000 fine after acquitting Sammut of the charge relating to misusing electronic telecommunications equipment to threaten to commit a crime.

Lawyer Ishmael Psaila appeared for Sammut.