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Estonian anti-Semite condemned
Updated: 05/Dec/2005 18:15
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An Estonian student accused of posting anti-Semitic slogans on the web has been brought to justice and fined.

The Supreme Court of Estonia rejected his plea of innocence and found him guilty of kindling social hatred.

Hannula was brought to justice in early August and fined 3,000 kroons (192 euros) after he posted the comment “Juudid – ahju” (literally “Jews into the oven”, or "burn the Jews") on a popular Baltic web news portal, DELFI. The comments were made in relation to an article on European views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Refusal to pay

After the verdict was pronounced, Hannula appealed to Estonia’s Supreme Court to overturn the court’s ruling. At the same time, he created a website where he asked for financial support to help him pay the imposed fine. The required sum of money was collected by 22 of his supporters in mid-September.

On 29 November, news-agency BNS reported that the Supreme Court had rejected Hannula’s appeal and reconfirmed the initial verdict brought by the local court of Tallinn three months earlier.

Judge Anne Ennok noted that besides anti-Semitic slogans, Hannula’s xenophobic activity included racist statements regarding Afro-Americans and Americans in general, which were found in a number of private and public Internet chat-rooms.

Nonetheless, Hannula has again refused to accept the decision of the Supreme Court of Estonia and is stepping to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg to appeal his case.

Legislation to be revised

An article published in the now-discontinued Post newspaper ten years ago, and which featured the phrase “Jews into the oven”, also led to a trial. In 1995, the Tallinn court did not find enough reason to declare the statement an appeal to social or interethnic animosity.

Hannula’s is the first-ever case involving anti-Semitic remarks on the internet to result in a sentence. The Municipal Court of Narva rejected claims made against a 29 year-old junior officer of the Estonian border troops, who had used the same phrase in comments on an article about Efraim Zuroff.

The court justified its decision claiming that the Estonian legislation had changed by the time the trial was held. Therefore, according to its modern version, posting such statements should no longer be considered a crime but merely an act of mischief.

However, the district attorney of the Virumaa County, Mr. Gustav Blumberg, intends to litigate this sentence in the local Court of Justice, which should result in the revision of the case.

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