A woman has been fined €800 after being found guilty of spreading racist and xenophobic material online for describing a couple as ‘idiots’ on Facebook for adopting children from Asia, it emerged on Wednesday.
This is the first time someone in Cyprus has been found guilty for making racist comments online.
The woman was taken to court for the comments she had made in October 2016 on Facebook under the photo another user had posted of his young daughter.
She said: “Your wife doesn’t seem to be Cypriot or even European… More like Asian… this explains a lot…”
The man replied that she was being silly and that their children were adopted. The woman then replied: “And you are sillier than me for adopting children from Asia… Idiots.”
The probe into the incident was launched when a member of the public sent children’s rights commissioner, Leda Koursoumba, screengrabs of the discussion in question. Koursoumba then reported the case to the attorney-general and the police chief arguing that it seemed that there were violations of the law on combatting racism and xenophobia.
Since the incident concerned a child, Koursoumba had asked the police and the attorney-general to keep her informed.
The case was brought to court last month when the woman in question reportedly pleaded guilty to the charge of disseminating and making available racist and xenophobic material online, which promotes racial discrimination hatred or violence.
She was sentenced by the Nicosia district court this week and slapped with an €800 fine.
The court, according to media reports, stated that such incidents are very common and often go unpunished as no reports are filed in courts.
It also said that there is a problem with racism in Cyprus which ought to be dealt with.
The father of the girl expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the trial.
“There was a sentence, the institutions worked. I stick to this,” the man said on his Facebook profile. He also said that the type of sentence was not important to him, only that there was a successful outcome.
The law on offences involving the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material online provides for imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to €20,000 or both.