A Montreal neo-Nazi who was convicted of intentionally promoting hatred against the Jewish people has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and three years of probation, one of the harshest sentences handed down for this crime in Canada, according to a court judge. by Quebec Manlio Del Negro.
Gabriel Sohier-Chaput, 36, authored hundreds of articles and some podcasts in the far-right publication The Daily Stormer under the pseudonym “Charles Zeiger.” He was found guilty in Quebec Court on January 23.
Sohier-Chaput called for “continued Nazism everywhere” and mocked a Holocaust survivor, although she argued it was “satire” in her March testimony.
He is also prohibited from possessing weapons, including knives, for 10 years after his release; access any social network; writing and publishing articles; being in the presence of people expressing hateful ideologies, including participating in protests targeting people based on race, gender, sexuality, or religion; contact the editor of The Daily Stormer and any similar publication and leave Canada.
Sohier-Chaput will also have to undergo therapy to get rid of her “ideology of hate” and anger issues, Judge Del Negro said.
In July, the Crown and defense jointly recommended that Sohier-Chaput be sentenced to three months in jail with two years of probation, a recommendation that Quebec Court Judge Manlio Del Negro said “trivialized” the seriousness of the crime.
Sohier-Chaput’s lawyer, Antonio Cabral, said he was “very surprised” by the harsh sentence. He said he will file an application to appeal the sentence on Monday.
“We have someone who has had no violations in the last six years, we have someone who has no criminal record,” Cabral said outside the courtroom. “If that’s the judge’s opinion, I respect it. But I have a different perspective.”
Sohier-Chaput’s former lawyer, Hélène Poussard, filed a request for an appeal against the guilty verdict in February.
‘I hate the influencer’
A pre-sentence report, which assessed Sohier-Chaput’s psychological state after the verdict, described him as a “socially reclusive” person with “limited insight” who found “acceptance” in radical online communities and “displayed a lack of remorse.” “. “
He also stated that his ideology had not changed since his arrest in 2018 and that he maintains that “his actions were legitimate” although he is no longer active in those online communities. He has not taken steps toward rehabilitation, such as seeking therapy or community service, and called him a “hate influencer.”
“The most worrying thing is the pleasure he took in writing, as he himself says, ‘things we can’t say because of history,'” the report says.
At a sentencing hearing in July, Sohier Chapu apologized to those he had hurt and said he was “someone different now.”
But Del Negro said Friday that the apology seemed more “opportunistic” than sincere.
Del Negro cited the psychological report and a testimony from the vice-president of the Quebec chapter of the Center for Israeli and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Eta Yudin, in his final ruling. Yudin had noted that online hate has real-world consequences, as hate crimes against Jews in Canada reached record levels in 2021.
The judge said the lawyers’ joint recommendation was “deranged” from the reality of the effects Sohier-Chaput’s action had had on the Jewish community, and that a three-month sentence would “undermine public confidence in the system.” of Justice”.
“Hate speech has no place in this world,” Del Negro said, adding that hate speech goes against Canadian and Quebec values.
Due to the “aggressive and violent tone” of Sohier-Chaput’s writings and the “informed, structured, premeditated and systematic dissemination of hateful ideas,” Del Negro said he was “convinced that he must be isolated from society.”
Jewish organizations satisfied with the verdict
Marvin Rotrand, national director of the B’nai Brith Human Rights League, was happy as he left the courtroom.
“This case has gone around and around and was a great distress for the Montreal Jewish community. The crime was serious and yet all kinds of things were thrown at us in the case, including questions about whether the Holocaust was real,” he said . saying.
But he believes the sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime, will deter others from spreading hate ideologies and will set a “new standard” for hate crimes.
CIJA’s Yudin agreed.
“Today the court sent a very strong message that promoting and spreading hate has real consequences,” he said.
“Sitting anonymously behind a keyboard and spreading hate is not a free pass,” he said.
But, Yudin said, there is work to be done within the courts to better inform attorneys about the seriousness of the impact of hate crimes after hearing the joint three-month sentencing recommendation.
Rotrand and Yudin believe Holocaust education should be mandatory in Quebec, as it is in Ontario.
“But it’s good news for all of us: the judicial system works,” Yudin said.
“I think we took a big step forward today because the message is loud and clear… If you’re looking to promote hate and target another group, like in this case with neo-Nazi messages directed at the Jewish community, you’re not going to get away with it. ”