Sami Haenen convicted of press offense and threats, acquitted for incitement to hatred

The jurors of the Liège Assize Court began their deliberation at the trial of Sami Haenen, a 34-year-old Flémallois prosecuted for a press offense. The jury members had to answer three questions. One relating to press offenses and the other two relating to threats and incitement to hatred. The verdict fell after 4 hours of deliberation: Sami Haenen is convicted of press offense by threatening feminists and the majority of women in writing on Facebook. He was also found guilty of verbal threats to women who criticized him through his videos posted on social networks. He was, however, acquitted of preventing hate speech.

The accused had uttered, between October 12 and 19, 2020, threats of attack against women or feminists and had incited hatred or violence against women. Sami Haenen promised to become “the new Elliot Rodgers “, a mass killer. In his various messages, the man displayed a visceral hatred towards women and feminists.

On Wednesday morning, the accused was granted the floor one last time before the departure of the jurors for deliberation. “I found myself in a difficult situation. I received a torrent of hatred and death threats and I did not know how to react well. I only wanted to protect myself. I haven’t been living for a year. I hope I can resume a normal life. I really need an acquittal to resume my life as before. I hope that justice will be done“, he expressed.

►►► Read also: When Europol worries about “Incels”, far-right terrorism and anti-feminists

The jury had to answer three questions. The first, which constitutes the press offense, concerns written threats, towards feminists and women in general, posted on Facebook. The other two questions do not constitute a press offense. They concern threats made in a video broadcast on social networks and incitement to hatred against women also in a video broadcast online. Sami Haenen was therefore found guilty on the first two questions and acquitted on the third.

The Advocate General requires 3 years in prison with a partial probationary suspension

At the end of this guilty verdict, Advocate General Brigitte Goblet pinned down the narcissistic, antisocial and paranoid personality of the accused. As a risk of recidivism or of taking action is not excluded, the public prosecutor stressed the importance of accompanying the sanction with probative measures.

The Advocate General requested a 3-year prison sentence, with partial probation, as well as a fine. Among the probative conditions could be the ban on posting new messages on social networks. Sami Haenen’s defense requested a brief break in the hearing before his argument on the sanction to be imposed on him. The lawyers could apply for the probationary conditions requested by the general prosecutor’s office.

The judgment on the sentence is expected at the end of the afternoon

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