A vegan activist in France who posted a Facebook message offering “zero sympathy” for a butcher killed by an Islamist militant during an attack last week has been given a seven-month suspended prison sentence for the remarks.
The vegan cheesemaker and animal rights activist, named as Myriam by local media, went before a judge on Thursday to face a charge of condoning terrorism. The case comes two days after a leftwing activist received a one-year suspended sentence after hailing the death of gendarme Arnaud Beltrame in the attack in the town of Trèbes.
The charge can be brought against anyone suspected of approving terrorism or commenting on it favourably. Doing so online carries a maximum jail sentence of five years and a fine of €75,000 (£66,000).
On Monday night, police spotted a Facebook message about the killing of butcher Christian Medves at a Super U supermarket in Trèbes last week during a shooting spree by a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group.
“So then, you are shocked that a murderer is killed by a terrorist,” wrote the animal rights activist. “Not me. I’ve got zero compassion for him, there’s some justice in it.”
France’s butchers’ federation said it had filed the legal complaint against the author of the Facebook post.
With France mourning the four victims of the gunman’s rampage, the message sparked outrage online and the author later deleted it but prosecutors decided to go ahead with pressing charges for condoning terrorism, a legal source told AFP.
“I can understand that you can love and defend animals, but not to the point where you hate humans,” Franck Alberti, a lawyer who is close to the butcher’s family, was quoted as saying by Le Parisien newspaper.
The vegan activist lives in Saint-Gaudens, a village not far from the Pyrenees mountains and the town of Trèbes.
Moroccan-born Radouane Lakdimkilled four people during his rampage, including three people in a supermarket in Trèbes. Among the victims there were Beltrame and Medves, a 50-year-old father of two who was head of the meat section in the Super U.
The La Depeche du Midi newspaper published a message from the vegan activist in which she said she had deleted her comment within two hours and thought it was visible only to her friends, not to the public.
A leftwing French activist who had stood for parliament last June, Stéphane Poussier, was given a one-year suspended jail term on Tuesday over comments he posted on Twitter over the same attack.
Poussier had welcomed the death of Lt Col Beltrame, a gendarme who exchanged himself for a woman being held hostage but was then killed in an act.
“Whenever a policeman is shot … I think of my friend Rémi Fraisse,” Poussier wrote, referring to an environmental activist killed by a stun grenade fired by police during a 2014 protest over a dam. “And this time it was a colonel, great! Additionally, it means one less Macron voter,” he added.
President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday led a national tribute to Beltrame, who has been hailed as a hero. A ceremony for the three civilians killed was held on Thursday morning.
Lakdim was shot dead by police.