An appeals court nullified on Thursday a 10-month suspended prison sentence imposed on a Greek blogger who run a satirical webpage titled “Geron Pastitsios” (Elder Pastitsios) for “insulting religion”, ending his five-year legal battle.
The court activated article 8 of law 4411/2016 which cancels misdemeanors committed up until March 31, 2016 and carried a sentence of up to two years in prison.
The page’s creator, 32-year-old Filippos Loizos, who was convicted by a misdemeanors court in 2012. Electronic Crimes Unit initially arrested Loizos on charges of malicious blasphemy, which carries up to six months in prison, and offense against religion. The blasphemy charge was dropped but the second one persisted.
The webpage took its name from deceased Orthodox monk Eder Paisios, whose teachings and prophecies gained prominence among believers. In the webpage, Paisios’s name and face were replaced with “Pastitsios,” a popular Greek pasta-and-bechamel dish, to mock the alleged prophecies and exploitation of his name by religious websites. The arrest came about after Facebook told Greek authorities that Loizos was the administrator of the webpage.
Shortly before his arrest, Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas raised the issue in parliament urging the then-ministers of citizen protection and education to “take the necessary steps” as the administrator “insults, mocks and tries to humiliate the sacred form of Greek Orthodoxy, and Elder Paisios”.
The arrest triggered an outcry from supporters of Loizos and his conviction raised again the issue of freedom of expression and Greece’s archaic blasphemy laws.