Family of missing Spanish boy forced to pay out after identifying online "troll"

Yéremi Vargas, whose unsolved case is often compared to Madeleine McCann, also went missing in 2007

Yéremi Vargas, Trolls, Online abuse, defamation

Yéremi Vargas photographed before his disappearance [Wiki Commons]

The family of a boy who went missing in Gran Canaria in 2007 will have to pay compensation to a man they named as an alleged Internet troll posting malicious comments about their son.

Yéremi Vargas, often described as the Spanish Madeleine McCann, went missing in March, 2007, from outside his family home in the Canary Islands when he was seven. He has not been seen since.

Last year, his mother Ithaisa Suarez revealed that the family had started to receive a series of messages sent from an online troll about her son.

“Someone was posting mocking messages on social media about my missing song and even started phoning the house,” The Local reported Suarez saying in an interview. The messages contained comments like “We know who has Yéremi’s body” and “Yéremi is good at hide and seek.”

Furious at the ongoing messages, Suarez’s husband, Jonathan Guisado (not Yéremi’s father), worked to track down the identity of the person sending the anonymous messages, believing he had tracked the culprit down to Murcia in southern Spain. The family then went public with the alleged troll’s name.

But now a Spanish court has ordered the family to pay compensatory damages to the man they identified, ruling that with insufficient proof that he was the originator of the messages, the family had defamed him.

Facing a bill of €3,600, Guisado said: “It would have been cheaper to travel over the Murcia and give the guy a slap.”

Enrique Hernández Bento, a member of parliament for the Canary Islands, described the ruling in the case as unfair.

"Let’s not forget everything that has happened in Yéremi’s case and all the suffering that this family has had to endure," said Hernández, asking for Suarez and Guisado to get support in appealing their case.

“It does not seem fair that they are the ones to be condemned for reacting to comments made on social media that were very harsh.”

The ongoing disappearance of the seven-year-old boy has long been a high-profile case in Spain. Vargas disappeared outside his family home, leaving only yellow bucket that he had been playing with behind. The case happened two months before Madeleine McCann disappeared from an Algarve holiday resort in Portugal.

Both cases remain unsolved.

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