A man charged with posting a hateful comment on Facebook about Repubblika president Robert Aquilina was conditionally discharged and fined after apologising for his “unacceptable behaviour”.

Anthony Brincat was summoned to court on Friday to answer to charges during a hate speech sitting presided over by Magistrate Ian Farrugia.

Those charges stemmed from a Facebook post wherein Brincat wrote (in Maltese) “Robert, you are really mad, careful lest they send you to prison… see you in the grave, we’ll speak at the cemetery”.

The police took action and pressed charges against Brincat who on Thursday apologised, describing that comment as “unacceptable behaviour”.

When the hearing got underway, the accused’s lawyer, José Herrera, minuted a note on behalf of his client saying that “he publicly acknowledged that the words used to address Dr Robert Aquilina on social media in the last weeks were not appropriate in a democratic society”.

So he made a public apology for such “unacceptable behaviour”.

Although the accused did not agree with Aquilina about his civil society work, he “unreservedly acknowledged” that his efforts were motivated exclusively by his genuine wish to ensure that justice and meritocracy prevailed in the country, Herrera said.

On that note, Brincat registered an admission.

His lawyer pointed out further that whatever the interpretation given to the comment, his client certainly did not mean what he said. 

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi, assisting Aquilina who was also present in court, said that they “more than agreed” to the note minuted by Herrera.

“The bottom line is that one may disagree but there’s a way of expressing such disagreement, because even if not oneself, others might abuse of such comments,” stressed Azzopardi.

Having heard both parties, the court declared Brincat guilty upon his own admission, conditionally discharged him for one year and ordered him to pay a fine of €100.

“It’s good to use the media and we might not agree, but there should be no words that may trigger harm,” were the magistrate’s final words of warning as the accused nodded in understanding and extended his arm to shake hands with Aquilina who returned the gesture. 

The two exited the hall together. 

Inspector Kylie Borg prosecuted. 

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