Brutal killing of Swiss lamb sparks online 'lynching'
Police and officials in Switzerland expressed concern Friday at the virulent online reaction to the brutal slaughter of a lamb by drunken youths with demands they be stoned or sent to gas chambers.
The incident nearly two weeks ago in the small northern town of Porrentruy sparked unusually widespread outrage in the rural area, Florian Dubail, a police officer in the canton of Jura, told AFP.
"We were struck because we really had the feeling that the population was shocked by this very stupid act," he said.
A Facebook group entitled "Massacred lamb: maximum penalties" has drawn 1,250 followers and an outpouring of hatred against the youngsters.
In some instances the comments veered to threats and abuse with demands for gas chambers, shooting and stonings, drawing comparisons in Swiss media with a "digital lynching."
Some youngsters were also identified in violation of Swiss law, although the names were subsequently taken down.
"Some people are going a bit far with their comments," Dubail said.
Police detained about ten young people after the lamb was killed overnight on April 17-18, when local media reported that bottles of wine were stolen and cars were vandalised.
The lamb was stolen from a farm, brutally slaughtered and thrown into a camp fire.
Dubail declined to give details, but said the youngsters included minors and some were facing charges of theft and damage to property.
Jura Attorney General Genevieve Bugnon said she was surprised at the "excessive and abusive" comments online and cautioned that people were still legally liable for public comments on the Internet.
An administrator who recently took over the Facebook page warned on Friday that those who made threats and libelous comments would be excluded.
He admitted that it was "really stupid" of a creator of the group to identify the youngsters, while many followers also expressed alarm at the most violent comments.
© 2010 AFP