The conviction and 10-month suspended sentence for a Greek blogger who mocked a respected monk should cause “serious concern,” the human rights group Amnesty International said, expressing its reservations over the prosecution of the man for creating a parody Facebook page.
The group’s Greek office called the conviction last week a “blow to freedom of expression.”
Philippos Loizos is free pending appeal of his conviction last week on blasphemy-related charges. The 29-year-old’s page on Facebook referred to the monk, Elder Paisios, who died in 1994, as Elder “Pastitsios” — Greek for macaroni pie.
The blogger’s arrest in 2012 caused a stir among his supporters on the Internet and protesters outside Parliament but there was no reaction to the sentence.
Ridiculing a deceased monk who is revered by many has cost a Greek man a blasphemy conviction and a 10-month suspended sentence handed down by a Greek court.
The 27-year-old fish farm employee had set up the satirical Facebook page mocking Elder Pastitsios, whose sayings have gained prominence in recent years.
Loizos, 27, and his lawyer said they were surprised the courts went so far to after someone who was only expressing satire. Greece is one of the few countries which prosecutes for blasphemy and is pursuing another case against a director who put on a play by the American writer Terrence McNally parodying Jesus.
“It was clear that from the start the court was not willing to take my argument on board,” said the blogger, who insisted that he set up the page to satirize the sudden interest in the life of Elder Paisios.
Loizos used the name Elder Pastitsios and edited photos of Paisios so a pastitsio – a Greek dish consisting of pasta, bechamel and ground beef – appeared in place of his face.
“The judges were very aggressive and it seemed they did not want to understand what the page was about,” he said.
Loizos was arrested in 2012 after Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas, who is now in custody on suspicion of being part of a criminal gang, raised the issue regarding the Facebook page in Parliament.