Man sentenced to jail over hate speech against black people

A man was recently sentenced to 28 days behind bars after he likened black people to monkeys and said they spread disease, reported Latvian Radio. 

Three years ago the man, named Agnis, posted a Facebook update that contained the words that landed him on the bench of the accused. He expressed worry that a black person had been let into a sports club, and supplemented this with racist slurs.

Authorities took notice of the entry, and Agnis was accused of inciting hatred. "An offensive comment was posted on the internet, and this was the basis of starting a trial," said Riga District Court judge Signe Kalniņa. 

The man was acquitted in the first instance but the prosecutor took the case to a second instance court, where judge Kalniņa pronounced a guilty verdict.

The prosecutor asked to put the man behind bars for 28 days, but, seeing as the man was detained during the pre-court proceedings and was subjected to psychiatric expertise, he has already served his sentence.

The case can still be appealed in cassation. 

Last year, fourteen notices over hate speech were registered, against thirteen the year before, the Security Police told Latvian Radio. The interior police force launched two criminal proceedings over hate speech, against eight in 2016 and ten in 2015. 

According to Latvian law, incitement to hatred is an offence punishable with a prison term of up to three years. 

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