A young Internet user was sentenced Friday, June 2 in Paris to eight months in prison, including six months suspended probation, for harassing online the singer Hoshi, targeted by a campaign of hate and homophobic messages after kissing a dancer on stage in 2020.
Maël H., 21, was neither present nor represented by a lawyer at the hearing. The criminal court found him guilty of online mobbing, aggravated by the fact that it was committed because of the sexual orientation of the victim, an offense that carried a six-year prison sentence.
'Bubble of anxiety'
The judges went beyond the prosecution's request, which had earlier in the day requested a six-month prison sentence with a simple suspended sentence. The defendant was also ordered to pay 5,000 euros in damages to the 26-year-old singer, Mathilde Gerner of her real name. The artist also did not attend the trial, explaining in a letter read by her lawyer that she had "no strength" and did not "want to return to this bubble of anxiety" created by "the thousands" of harassers "who hide behind nicknames".
The "pack" harassment of which she was a victim had started more than three years ago and had caused a significant impact, estimated at 21 days of total incapacity for work (ITT), according to the singer's lawyer, Laura Ben Kemoun. On February 14, 2020, while she was nominated for the Victoires de la musique, Hoshi kissed a dancer on stage after performing her song "Amour censure", which denounces homophobia. Maël H. had been identified as one of the authors of repeated, hateful and homophobic messages addressed to the singer after this militant gesture. Five other people, minors, were also identified during the investigations conducted by the national unit for the fight against online hate of the Paris prosecutor's office, which has relinquished jurisdiction over them.
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During his hearings by investigators, Maël H. had admitted to having sent Hoshi a series of messages calling her a "fat sow", "dirty gouine" or "dirty lesbian", and to have created several accounts on social networks as soon as one was blocked. He considered that he had written nothing "defamatory" or threatening, evoking a few "empty words" or "uncordial messages". He had explained that he wanted to "let off steam" because he "did not feel well" and was surprised that the investigators had "found" him.