Maltese man fined over anti-pope comments on Facebook

Valletta, Malta - A Maltese man who posted a comment on Facebook saying the pope should be shot in his hands, cheeks and side to emulate Christ's crucifixion, was fined 500 euros (625 euros) on Thursday.

Karl Farrugia, 24, was also condemned to a month in jail, suspended for a year, on charges of incitement.

He formed part of group called 'No to the Pope in Malta' on the popular social network ahead of Benedict's visit to the staunchly Catholic island last month.

Taking the witness stand, Farrugia said the comment was only meant as a joke, which he assumed members of his group would take as such. He said he wanted to make the connection between Christ and the pope.

His defence counsel argued that his client could not be found guilty of the charge because Facebook was registered in the US and, therefore, Farrugia did not effectively publish the comment in Malta. Although this joke was in bad taste, he did not mean to incite anybody to harm the pope in any way, the lawyer argued.

Issuing the sentence, the magistrate said he failed to see the humour in the comment.