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HATE SPEECH

Two-year prison term for Twitter user who derided terrorism victims

Young Valencia woman’s comments “oozed pure, unadulterated wickedness,” says ruling

A street protest on July 12, 1997 demanding the release of kidnapped councilor Miguel Ángel Blanco, who was executed by ETA the next day.
A street protest on July 12, 1997 demanding the release of kidnapped councilor Miguel Ángel Blanco, who was executed by ETA the next day.ALFREDO ALDAI

The Spanish High Court has slapped a Twitter user with a two-year prison sentence for humiliating victims of the Basque terrorist group ETA, for whom she professed admiration.

María Lluch Sancho, a 24-year-old from Valencia, received the harshest sentence available for this type of crime.

In its ruling, Spain’s central criminal court said that Lluch’s tweets “ooze pure, unadulterated wickedness.”

The young woman tweeted that she “cried” every time an ETA member passed away

Her online comments about well-known victims of ETA attacks – including a young councilor who was kidnapped and executed, and a child who lost both legs in a car bomb – were described as containing “levels of cruelty, humiliation and mercilessness of superlative proportions.”

Besides the prison term, Lluch will have to pay the legal fees and abstain from standing for public office for the next eight years. The court’s decision may be appealed.

Guillermo Zapata, a former Ahora Madrid councilor who resigned after tweeting offensive messages.
Guillermo Zapata, a former Ahora Madrid councilor who resigned after tweeting offensive messages.Claudio Álvarez

Under Spanish law, a prison sentence of two years or under is usually suspended, unless the defendant has prior convictions.

The young woman’s defense had claimed that her tweets were a result of “her solidarity with regard to the Basque problem,” and that she was completely indifferent to ETA, despite having expressed that she “cried” every time an ETA member passed away.

Between November 2012 and August 2014, Lluch Sancho used the nickname Madame Guillotine to poke fun at ETA’s victims.

She repeated slogans such as “Maderos a la guillotina, ETA mátalos” (Police officers to the guillotine, kill them all ETA”), and provided her 790 followers with links to YouTube videos that made fun of terrorist attacks.

This is not the first time that the Spanish courts have opened investigations into the use of online media to laugh at terrorism victims. Guillermo Zapata, a short-lived culture councilor at Madrid City Hall, is the target of a similar probe by the High Court after tweeting jokes about ETA attacks and the Holocaust.

English version by Susana Urra.

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