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Spanish YouTuber found guilty of humiliating beggar

A YouTuber in Spain was sentenced to 15 months in jail and 20,000 euros for posting a video in which he offered a homeless man biscuits stuffed with toothpaste, a court said Friday.

Spanish YouTuber found guilty of humiliating beggar
Photo: agencyby/Depositphotos

Kan-Hua Ren, known as ReSet, was found guilty of an offence against moral integrity in his video published in January 2017 on his channel and since removed, the Barcelona court said.

He was sentenced to 15 months in jail, which he won't likely have to serve.

Sentences of up to two years are generally not implemented in Spain for first-time offenders in non-violent crimes.

Ren was also ordered to pay 20,000 euros in compensation to the victim and his channels will be closed down for five years.

“Challenged” by one of his followers, Ren, who was 19 at the time, filmed himself removing cream from inside biscuits and replacing it with toothpaste.

Then he gave them to a Romanian beggar along with a 20-euro bill.

“Maybe I went a little far, but let's look at the positive side, it will help him clean his teeth, I don't think he has often brushed his teeth since he became poor,” Ren told his followers, according to a court document.

The homeless man threw up, wrote the judge in her verdict dated May 29.

The video sparked an outcry, so Ren posted a new one in which he went back to see the man and gave him another 20 euros.

“If I had done this with a normal person, no-one would have said a thing, but as he is a beggar people are complaining,” he said in a message accompanying the video, according to the court document.

Among the 200 most influential Spanish-speaking personalities on YouTube at the time, police said he then tried to stop the victim making a complaint in exchange for 300 euros and yet another video in which he would spend the night with him.

Police added he targeted other vulnerable people in other videos on his channel, where he earned money through advertising.

“I do things for showmanship, people like anything morbid,” he told the court.

On Friday, Ren's two YouTube channels, which respectively have more than 1.2 million and 250,000 followers, were still online.

READ ALSO: YouTuber accused of sexual assault for 'stealing kisses' in the street

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Messi sees ‘strange’ things at Barcelona after social media row

Lionel Messi said Wednesday it was "strange" to see Barcelona locked in a row over a company accused of criticising current and former players, including himself, on social media.

Messi sees 'strange' things at Barcelona after social media row
Photo: AFP

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday the club had terminated its contract with PR company, I3 Ventures, who had been hired to improve the image of Bartomeu and the club's board online.

According to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser Catalunya, the company oversaw “dozens” of accounts attacking the likes of Messi, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Pep Guardiola and Carles Puyol on Facebook and Twitter.

Among the messages the report cited is one expressing anger towards Messi for his delay in signing a new contract and another questioning Pique's involvement in tennis' Davis Cup.

“The truth is that I find it strange that something like this happens,” Messi said in an interview to be published on Thursday by Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo.

“But they also said that there would be evidence. We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We cannot say much and wait to see what happens with all this. It seems a strange issue,” added the Barca captain.

Bartomeu has met with senior players, including Messi, to explain the case.   

“The president told us the same thing he said publicly, the same thing he said at the press conference. What was the situation, what had happened. I can't say much more,” Messi said.

In a statement on Monday, Barcelona denied that it was behind the messages and Bartomeu reiterated that stance on Tuesday.   

“Barca has never hired a service to discredit anyone,” he said. “Not a player, not a former player, nor any politician, manager, president or former president.”

Bartomeu added: “That is flatly false. We will defend ourselves where necessary on this issue, by all means.”

Barcelona had already threatened legal action against any media organisations that “continue to implicate the club in this type of practice”.    

“Let one thing be clear,” Bartomeu continued. “To the question: Have we commissioned the monitoring of social networks? The answer is yes.   

“To the question: Have we commissioned to discredit people or institutions through social networks? The answer is no and we will take action against all those who accuse us of that.”

The controversy increases the pressure on Bartomeu and the Barcelona board ahead of presidential elections due next year, and following a period of political turmoil at the club.

The board were clumsy in their sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde last month, when an approach to Xavi Hernandez was leaked while Valverde was still in post.

And two weeks ago, Messi engaged in a public spat with the club's technical secretary Eric Abidal, who claimed the players were the main cause of Valverde's removal.

The timing of this latest controversy is also a potential distraction ahead of a crucial week for the team.

Barcelona play Eibar at home in La Liga on Saturday before facing Napoli away in the Champions League and then Real Madrid in the league at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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