Man guilty of hate speech after calling for PN MP to be stoned in Facebook comment

The accused was fined €300 and handed a 2-year conditional discharge, as the court noted that PN MP Karol Aquilina had accepted his apology

A Facebook comment calling for Opposition MP Karol Aquilina to be “stoned in the middle of the village square” has earned its author a conviction for hate speech.

39-year-old Alan Micallef from Siggiewi was charged before magistrate Ian Farrugia on Friday morning.

Micallef, who was assisted by lawyer Charlene Grima, admitted the charges. Grima informed the court that her client was prepared to apologise, describing the remark as simply foolishness. The lawyer pointed out that Micallef had also deleted the comment immediately and had a clean criminal record.

Aquilina, appearing as parte civile told the court that he knew the defendant from Siggiewi and that he didn’t have a bad word to say about him.

The court noted that Aquilina had accepted Micallef’s public apology and that the defendant had explained to the police in his statement that he had published the comment in a moment of anger and hadn’t intended to cause harm.

Addressing the defendant, who has a four-year-old daughter and another child on the way, the magistrate warned him that words have consequences.

“Whether you intended or didn’t have the intention to cause harm, these types of comments create a great danger,” said the magistrate. “They can incite violence. Today they don’t use stones so much in our part of the world, but we have [other] weapons and hot heads.”

The court took into account the defendant’s honesty about what he had done, which it said, would be reflected in the punishment.
“Your duty as a young father should be to take care of your family and to do what is right, not just follow the law - because obeying the law is a minimum.”

Micallef was fined €300 and handed a 2-year conditional discharge.