The tweeter and journalist Fonsi Loaiza has been sentenced to pay a fine of 2,100 euros for accusing the Madrid Municipal Police of murdering the Senegalese street vendor Mame Mbaye in the Spanish capital in 2018.
The judge has considered that the tweet in which he wrote “The Police have murdered him” constitutes a crime of grave injuries, while it has acquitted two other people who were accused. At the moment the sentence is not final and there is an appeal.
Mame Mbaye died on March 15, 2018 after fleeing from the Police in the context of a persecution, presumably for being working as a ‘mantero’, that is, selling imitations of well-known brands on the street. The 34-year-old man collapsed in the street, apparently as a result of a heart disease.
However, there were many voices that denounced that his death would not have occurred if the police action had not been mediated. Later, the Justice denied that there was a link between the police persecution and the death, and that this was due to natural causes.
As an element of guilt to condemn me: having many followers. While in this country, the mainstream media lie every day, the fascists have an open bar and go away from corrupt little girls like Juan Carlos I, M.Rajoy, Esperanza Aguirre or Cristina Cifuentes.
– Fonsi Loaiza (@FonsiLoaiza) October 13, 2021
The event caused massive concentrations and demonstrations in the Madrid neighborhood of Lavapiés, one of the most multicultural in the city, in which the “institutional racism” and the persecution to which people of sub-Saharan origin are subjected, with actions such as requesting papers on public roads only to black people.
In this context, a large number of people expressed their opinions on social networks. Many of them openly critical of the police actions. Three of them have been brought before the courts: in addition to Fonsi Loaiza, Malick Gueye, spokesman for the Madrid Manteros Union, and a woman who has a store in Lavapiés.
Convicted of having followers and acquitted by context
Loaiza has been convicted by a judge who has interpreted that he did not publish his tweets as a citizen, but as a journalist, and ensures that “What is expressed is not an opinion, but a fact. A murder and its authorship are reported”, “with a reckless disregard for the truth.”
Today I have been tried and I have sat on the bench for denouncing institutional racism. In Spain, fundamental rights such as freedom of expression are being converted into crimes. Meanwhile, the fascists continue to roam freely. Thank you very much for the support pic.twitter.com/kKYTydWvXF
– Fonsi Loaiza (@FonsiLoaiza) October 1, 2021
Likewise, the sentence argues that “he is a journalist” so he is “perfectly aware of the requirements of veracity of the information” and emphasizes that “spread your messages to thousands of people”, since at that time he had 54,000 followers on Twitter.
Thus, the text states that the Law protects criticism of police actions, but “cannot admit unfounded attacks against them that tend to cause their social loss of prestige.”
For his part, another of the defendants, Gueye, was brought to trial after ensuring in an interview: “How not to protest, if in front of our eyes a person has been killed”. However, in this case he has been acquitted because, although the judge considers that his expressions are “excessive or unfortunate”, they occur in “a context of a message denouncing the social reality of a group of people.”
Equally acquitted has been the woman who ran a store, whose Facebook profile published: “What we say is that the chilli bastards are responsible for this death and many more. We are not saying that it was a murder or that he was shot. “In this case, the authorship of the text could not even be confirmed, because there were more people who had access to the account of that social network.
“Absurd strict analysis”
Loaiza was denounced by the Unified Municipal Police Association (APMU), created in 2012, since libel offenses can only be prosecuted by reporting the aggrieved person or their legal representative.
According to the tweeter’s lawyer, Andrés García Berrio, in statements collected by El Salto, the phrase of the tweet for which he has been condemned can only be understood as an opinion and it cannot be interpreted in a literal way, but it alluded to the fact that a natural death had not occurred, but rather wanted to point out that “there were causes behind”.
“The ECHR has stated in several judgments that a citizen does not have the duty to speak of ‘murder’ or ‘torture’ fitting with the legal category. Social uses go much further and do this strict analysis is absurd“, has indicated Berrio.
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