Norman Lowell, leader of the Imperium Europa Party, was yesterday handed down a two-year jail term suspended for four years after he was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and insulting the President of Malta.
He was also fined €500.
Speaking outside the Law Courts in Valletta following the verdict, Mr Lowell, accompanied by his legal counsel Emmy Bezzina, said: "This is a sad day, a very sad day for Malta and the Maltese people. Today, the light of liberty has been extinguished".
Mr Lowell was found guilty of inciting racial hatred in Rabat on April 3, 2006, in St Paul's Bay in May of the same year, and in an internet article entitled Coming Cataclysmic Crises between December 2003 and March 2006.
He was also found guilty of insulting the President of Malta, Eddie Fenech Adami, in Qawra in May 2006.
In a 117-page judgment, Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera said it would not be enough to take into consideration the intentions of the author or speaker but to grasp what the average citizen would understand the meaning to be.
Referring to the International Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Racial Discrimination, the court found that the article Coming Cataclysmic Crises incited racial hatred.
The court noted that since the prosecution had failed to produce Mr Lowell's criminal record, the court would have to treat him as a first-time offender and the punishment should act as a deterrent to potential offenders.
Magistrate Scerri Herrera added that Mr Lowell should choose his words carefully before speaking in public.
Outside the law courts, Mr Lowell said it was no longer possible for people to express themselves adequately without being subjected to censorship.
He claimed his fundamental right of freedom of expression had been abused and he told reporters they would "all finish up, one by one. They will get you, silence you and muzzle you".
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