Historic verdict in cyber insult case

In the first case of its kind in Switzerland, a young woman has been fined for insulting someone on facebook.

This content was published on December 20, 2010 - 16:02 and agencies

The free newspaper “20 Minuten” reported on Monday that the 19-year-old from the eastern city of St Gallen had been a member of a group opposing a move to ban weekend concerts at the KuGL cultural centre which went on until 5 in the morning.

She had referred to a man who wanted the concerts banned as a “Seckel” – roughly equivalent to “idiot” – and called him a “truurige Mensch”, or “sad”.

He lodged a complaint, and the magistrate agreed that the words constituted an insult. The woman was sentenced to a fine of SFr30 ($31) a day for seven days suspended for two years, plus an unsuspended fine of SFr100.

However, the magistrate told the Swiss news agency that the verdict had not yet come into force.

The defendant described the verdict as “excessive”. However, it has been welcomed by experts concerned about “cyber insults”.

“This verdict is a milestone, and will be an important signal for both victims and perpetrators,” commented parliamentarian Barbara Schmid-Federer, of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party.

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