A 19-year-old has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for threatening to make a teacher “die like Samuel Paty,” a reference to the educator beheaded in October near Paris, the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) of Nice, France, said on Saturday.
The man, who was brought before a judge on Friday, organised his own defence. He explained that he had simply been making a “joke” to impress a young high school student.
The man, who has a professional baccalaureat (high school diploma) and is today no longer in the school system, had learnt on social media of an incident that had taken place in one of the teacher’s classes. The teacher, who is in his thirties, had questioned some of his students in connection with suspicions that they had cheated at a mock exam for the baccalaureat.
After obtaining the address of the teacher’s private account on another social network, the suspect threatened him with a death like that of Samuel Paty, the teacher who was beheaded after showing his students caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed during a class on freedom of expression.
“My client has gone through two very difficult weeks,” said Julien Darras, attorney for the plaintiff. The teacher had been forced to suspend his classes and remove his name from his letter box while the police services sought to identify the person who had issued the threats.
The suspect, who had a clean record, faced up to seven years in jail for publicly promoting acts of terrorism by electronic means and death threats. He has 10 days to appeal against his sentence, which came with a warrant for immediate incarceration.
Since the terror attack against worshippers at the Nice Basilica on 29 October, OPP-Nice has conducted over a score of investigations into terrorism promotion, according to Public Prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme.
One man has already received a similar sentence for threatening people near a religious building, Bonhomme said.
The Brussels Times