Assises Liège: Sami Haenen sentenced to 12 months suspended for press offense and threats

This 34-year-old Flémallois had been found guilty of having committed a press offense and verbal threats by his various interventions on social networks. This 34-year-old Flémallois was prosecuted for posting various publications on social networks, in which he expressed his hatred towards women. He had made threats of attack against women or feminists and was suspected of having incited hatred or violence against women. The facts took place between October 12 and 19, 2020. Sami Haenen promised to become “the new Elliot Rodgers”, a mass killer. In his various messages, Sami Haenen displayed a visceral hatred towards women and feminists.

To justify his behavior, Sami Haenen felt he had been targeted by threats. “I found myself in a difficult situation. I received a torrent of hatred and death threats and I did not know how to react too well. I only wanted to protect myself,” he told the jurors before deliberation on guilt.

After a first deliberation, Sami Haenen was found guilty of having committed a press offense by threatening in writing, on Facebook, feminists and the majority of women. The jury justified its decision by considering that the threats made are likely to inspire a serious threat, even if they did not specifically designate a particular person.

The jury also found Sami Haenen guilty of verbal threats to women who criticized him through his videos posted on social networks. Sami Haenen claimed to have been threatened and to have responded to these threats. But the jury considered that it was mainly insults, to which he responded with his own threats. These threats gave rise to a legitimate fear.

Sami Haenen, on the other hand, was acquitted of the prevention of incitement to hatred, his virulent insults not constituting in the eyes of the jurors an incitement to hatred or violence.

At the end of this guilty verdict, Advocate General Brigitte Goblet had pinned down the narcissistic, antisocial and paranoid personality of the accused. As a risk of recidivism or of taking action was not excluded, the public prosecutor had stressed the importance of accompanying the sanction with probative measures. Advocate General Brigitte Goblet had requested a 3-year prison sentence, with partial probation, as well as a fine.

The defense of Sami Haenen, Me Alexandre Wilmotte and Me Audrey Lamy, had pleaded for a more limited sentence with a probationary suspension for the remainder of the preventive detention. Sami Haenen, on the other hand, refused to submit to a possible probationary condition linked to a ban on posting new messages on the Internet.

At the end of a second deliberation, Sami Haenen was sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence with a probationary suspension of 2 years for the remainder of the preventive detention.

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