A police officer who deliberately posted a misleading video clip of a sexual assault in an attempt to stir up hatred against migrant children has become the first person to Spain be sentenced to prison for using social media to post and spread fake news.
A court in Barcelona on Tuesday found the Guardia Civil officer guilty of a breach of fundamental rights and civil liberties and sentenced him to 15 months in prison and a fine of €1,620 (£1,410).
The accused, who has accepted a prosecution agreement, will avoid prison because custodial sentences of less than two years are not served by first-time offenders in Spain. However, the court ordered him to take a course on human rights and anti-discrimination and to refrain from posting defamatory comments on social media.
The court heard that in July 2019, the defendant posted a video about his Twitter account he said showed a young Moroccan migrant raping a woman in Canet de Mar, a town near Barcelona. He uploaded the video – which actually showed a woman being beaten and sexually assaulted in China – days after a woman from Canet de Mar was allegedly raped by two foreign minors living in a reception centre.
“Here is a video of the Moroccan led [an often derogatory term for unaccompanied minors] in Canet de Mar – one of those we will end up paying for until he turns 23,” the post read. The officer also implied that the attacks by “madmen and packs of Moroccans” were ignored by the media.
The video has been viewed nearly 21,000 times.
Prosecutors, who said the defendant’s account was full of racist and xenophobic material, initially requested a two-year sentence. Other elements on his Twitter account included a Celtic cross – a symbol often used by the far right – and a quote from the late white supremacist terrorist David Lane.
“Driven by his animosity and rejection of foreign immigrants of Moroccan origin, he posted a tweet and video showing an apparent rape committed by two minors with the aim of smearing them by generally associating them with violent and sexual acts. . assaults,” the court said.