Count Dankula: YouTube prankster fined £800 for 'Nazi pug' hate crime

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A man who filmed his partner's pet dog giving Nazi salutes while he said "sieg heil" and "gas the Jews" has been fined £800 (around US$1,120 at the current GBP/USD exchange rate) by the Airdrie sheriff court on Monday, the Independent reported.

The punishment comes some two years after the video was originally broadcast on the YouTube platform, which Meechan maintained was a joke meant to irritate his girlfriend, but the judge said was actually a "grossly offensive" communication and it was "self evident" that the joke was anti-Semitic.

A judge in Scotland said the video of a pug raising its paw to a Nazi phrase "contained menacing, anti-Semitic and racist material". "'Gas the Jews' in one form or another is repeated by you 23 times within a few minutes", he added.

"This is a really unsafe precedent to set, for people to say things and their context to be completely ignored and then they can be convicted for it", Meechan later told the press.

Meechan had denied any wrong-doing.

In the clip, Meechan, better known as Count Dankula, told viewers how he wanted to annoy his girlfriend as a joke so made a decision to turn her pet pug, Buddha, into the "least cute thing I could think of".

Meechan later posted a video in which he apologized for the original dog clips, saying it was a joke and that he has no such political leanings.

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But Sheriff Derek O'Carroll said that while the right to freedom of speech was important, the law necessarily places some limits on that right in all modern democratic countries.

"For the system to disregard things like that means your actions no longer matter, they decide what your context and intent is".

Comedian Ricky Gervais had taken to Twitter to comment on the case after guilty the verdict.

Meechan's conviction was welcomed by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, who also claimed they received hundreds of anti-Semitic messages online after their director, Ephraim Borowski, was called to give evidence at the trial.

"The thing which makes it so ridiculous is that this is over a joke, I'm a Youtuber, I made the joke video for a laugh... but then people wanted to misrepresent that".

He tweeted: "A man has been convicted in a United Kingdom court of making a joke that was deemed "grossly offensive".

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