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Antisemitic online comments landed man in court

Jonas Grinius (d.), Mauša Bairakas
Eriko Ovčarenko / 15min nuotr. / Jonas Grinius (right), Mauša Bairakas
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On Thursday, Kaunas district court held first hearing on a case against Jonas Grinius, 62, who is charged with inciting hatred against Jews and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity. The man pleaded not guilty, claiming he had a right to “non-Jewish convictions.”

Prosecutors brought charges against Grinius according to Article 170 part 2 of the Penal Code (Incitement against groups of people on the basis of nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, or other). If found guilty, Grinius faces a fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years.

A well-known pedagogue, journalist, and author Arkadijus Vinokuras was the one who brought Grinius' consistently hateful online comments to the attention of law enforcement.

Open hatred

The man, who has received technical education, was posting his comments on popular news websites from September 2010 to April 2011. He would call Jews idiots, claim they worshiped Satan who would punish them with “Holocaust squared,” and sign the comments with his first name, Jonas.

“Jews had not been serving their lord Satan well and were punished with Holocaust for that. A Jew could only escape Satan's wrath by renouncing his Jewishness” “The prospect of extermination for Jews – satanic creatures – is inevitable” “Holocaust is the Lord's punishment for Jews. They are asking for a Holocaust squared” “Jews are dreaming of overtaking power from Satan” – these are only a selection from dozens of comments that Grinius posted online.

Doesn't feel guilty

“They will try me for convictions that are based on the Bible's words for Jews: “Ye are of your father the devil“ (John 8:44),“ Grinius posted on the eve of the trial. He did not renounce his comments in court, where he represented himself. He said that his views on Jews were based on the Bible and Roman Catholic Church catechism. The man has had enough time for studying those, as he was “given a boot” in 1991.

Grinius admitted that he was indeed the author of the comments read out by the judge, yet he claimed he did not see anything unlawful in them. According to him, charges brought against him are unfair, since he is being tried for opinions and not convictions. “These are different things. I exercised my constitutional right to express my convictions that do not please the Jews. I have a right to it,” Grinius assured.

He wanted to have everyone who were involved in his case on the witness stand – including investigation officers and three experts. The court agreed to hear the experts. The next hearing is set for 27 April.

He needs a psychiatrist, not a judge

The hearing was attended by Mauša Bairakas, representative of Kaunas Jewish religious community. It is regrettable, he said,  that there are still people in Lithuania who do not shy away from posting applauding and antisemitic comments under stories about massacre in Jewish school in France.

“People like that are morally and psychologically corrupted by the life we're currently living. I think there are more people like that in Lithuania. And this man (Grinius) is demented, I think. He needs a psychiatrist, not a judge,” he said.

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