conspirator Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $50 million to parents for denying Sandy Hook shootings

The far-right American conspirator Alex Jones was sentenced on Friday August 5 by a Texas court to pay an additional fine of 45.2 million dollars (more than 44 million euros) to the parents of a boy died in the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.

This sum is in addition to the $ 4.1 million in compensatory damages, decided by the court on Thursday, that Alex Jones must also pay to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, died in the massacre at this Connecticut school.

The founder of the Infowars site – who was not in the courtroom to hear the verdict on Friday – had denied the reality of this bloody attack, the worst ever to occur in an American school. A young man armed with a semi-automatic rifle had killed twenty children and six adults there, and Alex Jones, a well-known far-right figure and follower of conspiracy theories, had, against all evidence, affirmed on his site that the massacre was just a stage show driven by opponents of guns.

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The damages decided on Friday are called “punitive” – a specificity of American law which does not exist in France in particular. They aim to dissuade the convict from reoffending, as well as anyone else from committing the same act. In total, Alex Jones will therefore have to pay 49.3 million dollars to the parents of Jesse Lewis.

Further financial penalties are expected to follow

Wesley Ball, the lawyer for the latter, launched, on Friday, to the jurors before they decide: “You have the ability to send a message to the whole country, even to the world (…). And it is to stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies ». Mr. Ball had asked them to “to make sure he can’t do it again”.

The fines imposed on Alex Jones by the Texas court on Thursday and Friday are the first in this case, but they are part of a series of proceedings brought by relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre against this influential Trumpist activist. He had finally publicly admitted the reality of the killing, while refusing to cooperate with the courts. Several families sued him for compensation. Judges in Texas and Connecticut had already sentenced him by default to pay damages to the plaintiffs, but leaving it to jurors to set the amount. More financial sanctions are expected to follow and could deprive Alex Jones of his platform; the financial health of his company fuels many debates.

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The killings – recurrent in the United States – are often the subject of conspiracy theories questioning the reality of the facts, sometimes provoking the harassment of relatives of victims, accused of lying.

The World with AFP

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